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Healthy Competition

January 8, 2014, 10:05 PM by Angela Kennecke

Healthy Competition

While no one wants to call it a "race," that seems to be what's taking place between Sioux Falls' two health systems. Who will make breakthroughs in breast cancer and genomics first? It's a lot of competition for a town the size of Sioux Falls.

Research is certainly the buzz word in healthcare these days and hospital systems are working to be first with the latest breakthroughs for patients. 

"Fortunately we've been able to grow our capabilities dramatically over the years and pushed ourselves, not because of competition, but because of your friend that has breast cancer, or your mother or your sister," Avera McKennan President and CEO Dr. David Kapaska said.

It seems just when one Sioux Falls health system announces a new program, the other one does something similar. Take genetics and medicine. Last month, Avera introduced a personalized medicine program in orthopedics based on genetics. This week, Sanford announced a new program combining genetics and internal medicine. 

"I work very hard at trying to make Sanford very unique and distinct and go to the deep end of the pool doing it--meaning a lot of substance; a lot of researchers, a lot of money, a lot of facilities and a lot of technology, so we are unquestionably uniquely different," Krabbenhoft said.

But that distinction isn't always there. 

"The world of healthcare is so broad and so wide open that there is plenty of room for all of us to differentiate and we don't need to replicate each other and I just wish that would sink in," Krabbenhoft said.

"But I think what happens in Sioux Falls is when the competitive nature gets sharp, we're small enough that it can feel personal. And I think that's the piece that doesn't make us better, the personal aspect of it," Kapaska said.

One thing these CEOs can agree on is that they're out to serve patients and employees. 

"We have a responsibility to deliver on these promises and provide great jobs and opportunities for people and get past the local scene, if you will," Krabbenhoft said.

"The competitive nature that encourages us to be better, which I think we just got a whole bunch better, is the upside for the community, the region and even beyond that," Kapaska said.

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