Healthcare Innovation

Integration: Early in the game of healthcare reform

At the recent annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco—“where Wall Street meets healthcare to talk business,” according to HealthLeaders the themes ranged from preparing for the newly insured to continuing the expansion of clinically integrated networks. The conference included both for-profit and not-for-profit health systems discussing what had helped make them successful in this early stage of healthcare reform.

Clinical integration is a hot topic for any healthcare system, regardless of profit status in this early stage of healthcare reform. And that’s because success is dependent on it. As Chicago-based Advocate Health Care executive vice president Lee B. Sacks MD noted at the conference, “Clinical integration has allowed us to advance in value-based care.”

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“Skate to Where the Puck Will Be” to Improve Healthcare System Integration

MedSpeed recently published a report on the roundtable we facilitated at the 2013 Fall IDN Summit in Phoenix, AZ, the fourth in a series of symposiums we’ve conducted with healthcare supply chain leaders. We learned that most IDNs are engaged in—and some are much further along—the process of trying to figure out how to really act as integrated systems.

We discussed the strategic role that the supply chain plays in system integration, and the tangible benefits that transportation can provide for improved integration across a system. The conclusion was that an effective, reliable, centralized healthcare transportation network can help expanding systems stay physically connected.

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Integration is critically important, yet many healthcare organizations aren’t prepared

We are well aware that the healthcare industry is in a time of tremendous consolidation with a greater than 50% increase in consolidation just since 2009. Since that activity is expected to continue through 2014, we wanted to get a sense for how successfully hospitals and health systems have been at integrating new facilities. To do that, MedSpeed conducted a survey in conjunction with HealthLeaders Media’s Leadership Council.

The survey polled 138 senior leaders across the healthcare spectrum, including hospitals, health systems, physician practices and payer organizations. Of those surveyed, 73% said that physically integrating materials and supplies is either “critically important” or “important” to their organization’s success in providing quality care.

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CFOs and the Supply Chain: A winning strategy

Over the past couple of years, in this space you’ve seen the discussion about supply chain as a strategic asset for healthcare organizations, and how important it is that those in the C-suite understand and view it as such.  A recent Dow Jones/Deloitte Risk & Compliance Journal report titled “How CFOs Are Reshaping Supply Chains” makes this case very compellingly.

The report notes that while both chief risk officers (CROs) and chief financial officers (CFOs) have long been involved with supply chain oversight, finance chiefs—with their eyes on cost controls, risk management and the levers of working capital—are increasingly involving themselves.

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ROI: Look Beyond Financial to the Intangible Benefits

I was very heartened by a conclusion drawn at the recent HealthLeaders’ CFO Exchange. Apparently, these healthcare CFOs together reached the conclusion that ROI is more than financial.

A report from that roundtable specifically discussed the implementation and costs associated with Electronic Health Records (EHR). One of the CFOs said, “It’s hard or nearly impossible to justify the investment needed for a state-of-the-art EHR with hard-dollar savings.” He went on to point out that to really look at the return on investment: “You have to look beyond that to the intangible benefits, the improvements in delivery of care and positioning your organization to be competitive in the future.”

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Practicing Sustainability, Not Just Preaching It

Back in the winter, I wrote about the benefits of sustainability in healthcare. The study I cited, sponsored by the Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI) showed that sustainability initiatives could save the healthcare industry billions over several years. At that time I noted that we were going to look for more ways to continue our own sustainability efforts.

I’m very pleased to announce that MedSpeed has joined Practice Green Health, an organization that supports “environmental solutions for the healthcare sector and lends support to create better, safer, greener workplaces and communities.” This nonprofit membership organization was founded on the principles of positive environmental stewardship to support best practices by organizations in the healthcare community.

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Fear Stymies Innovation…BUT it shouldn’t

Things move forward at a rapid pace because of innovation and we’ve been hearing for quite a while now about the need for greater innovation in healthcare. Innovation in healthcare has been challenging due to many factors, including the fast pace of change and a general fear of failure.

Last week in Becker’s Hospital Review I read a post discussing healthcare’s fear of failure and how that stymies innovation. The article’s author interviewed Louis Burns, CEO at Intel-GE Care Innovations, who discussed the importance of being a disrupter in your own industry, if change is indeed going to happen. To overcome this innovation stagnation in healthcare, Mr. Burns says that healthcare leaders need to take big risks and reimagine the healthcare delivery system.

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What a Waste – Up to $1 Trillion Annually is Wasted in Healthcare

As healthcare reform transitions from an abstract idea to a foregone conclusion, healthcare leaders are focused on uncovering inefficiencies in their systems.  Instead of merely slashing reimbursements or providing less care, we have a clear opportunity to do more — and provide the right care — with less waste and less spending. I recently read Mark Graban and Rob Harding’s article Cut Costs by Reducing Redundant or Inefficient Activity, in Hospitals & Health Networks, and agree with them that there is even more hidden waste to cut.

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