First Things First: True health system integration requires big picture focus

One option to getting things done quickly is to just dive in. And in some cases, that is the best option. However, in a recent H&HN post, author Jeff Jones, urges healthcare organizations attempting to eliminate redundancies and create true integration to resist that instinct. Healthcare leaders who think that integration “is simply a series of operational assignments and a redrawing of the org chart” couldn’t be more wrong.

Jones argues that the process should focus on the purpose of integration and what is going to be measured.

Organizations that remove redundancies before creating consistency and reliability struggle with achieving true systemness. In those cases, when the quest for cost savings supersedes the original purpose of integration, system leaders may be putting themselves at a disadvantage… without establishing a common way of operating — it becomes more difficult to remove variability.

It’s a slippery slope. Of course all health systems are on a quest to save money, but it’s important to stay focused on the purpose of integration.

Systemness, done right, integrates all aspects of a health system’s governance, operations, and workflows—across all technologies, clinicians, and locations—to deliver seamless, cost-effective, high-quality care. But systemness can only be achieved by removing variability.

Capturing and sharing consistent data among facilities, then applying that data to clinical and functional decisions can remove variation and increase accuracy and predictability. Greater uniformity in what’s being measured allows health systems to turn more focus to improving quality—essential in population health management.

What gets measured, gets done could not be more true when it comes to integration. Jones says, “Beyond measuring cost efficiencies, there are measures for process consistency (eliminating variation) and outcomes-based measures (cost, satisfaction, quality).”

Without those measurements, no organization can track its success in achieving systemness.

 

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