Companies as diverse as FedEx, Motel 6, and Southwest Airlines have found success by picking the right customers and focusing on a well-defined service. Now some hospitals are becoming customer-focused, specializing in a particular type of medicine or medical procedure.

“Over the last 10 years, there’s been almost a threefold increase in the number of specialty hospitals,” says Diwas Singh KC, an assistant professor of information systems and operations management at Emory University’s...

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