“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.

Adding new locations is the reality in today’s healthcare environment, so scalability is paramount. Participants noted that if a program is not scalable, prices can too easily balloon out of control. The conclusion: any program implemented (transportation or otherwise) must not only be scalable, but must also improve quality.

According to our participants, even less tangibly connected benefits contribute to the actual value of a program, so value should be the criterion by which any program is evaluated or assessed. The consensus was that actual hard numbers that speak to improved efficiency and productivity go far in proving scalability and getting system-wide buy-in for a program.

Participants acknowledged that many leaders didn’t recognize the complexity of what was needed for effective transportation within their network. Organizations must “know what they don’t know” in order to buy into any kind of change.

So how are today’s IDNs going to become tomorrow’s even larger and more successful IDN’s? To borrow a phrase from Wayne Gretzky—successful providers of healthcare transportation and IDNs will need to “skate where the puck is going to be” in order to continue to refine and improve system integration. To successfully integrate at a scalable level, organizations will need to continue to look for opportunities using physical integration as a key tool or catalyst for greater system integration.

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