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.”

Delivering value will separate the successful from the less successful in healthcare’s new reimbursement model. Successful organizations, like Advocate, recognize that integration is a key component in care delivery.

Pressure continues for organizations to develop into cohesive healthcare delivery systems, yet many health systems have not learned to maximize their physical integration, as the recent survey we conducted indicates. Of the leaders surveyed, 73% agree that physical integration is important or critically important to their organization’s success in enabling quality care, but only 13% believe that their organization operates as an integrated entity.

Utilizing physical integration as a catalyst for systemic integration allows a health system to use the physical connecting points throughout their network (outpatient centers, hospitals, physician offices, labs) to streamline and integrate operations.

At the conference, Milton Johnson, president and CEO of HCA, the largest non-governmental hospital system in the U.S said, “It’s worth pointing out that we’re just in the first inning with respect to healthcare reform.”  With physical integration as a key driver, there is no better time to get out to an early lead.

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