Don’t kick the can down the road…when strategy does NOT equal results

by Mike Antoniades, Founder & CEO, Alfa Healthcare Group, LLC

It wasn’t long ago that many of us in the hospital industry were demonically preparing for Y2K. Hospitals made multi-million dollar investments to secure Y2K compliance for software, equipment and technology-based infrastructure. Many of us spent New Year’s Eve at the hospital counting down the seconds for a new century to start “just-in-case”. As an industry, we admirably reacted to a specific “crisis” that we expected. It is, and has always been, one of our industry’s strengths: to act when an urgent situation is upon us. All the preparations and investments we made paid off as for the majority of us the lights didn’t blink, the multitude of systems didn’t stop working…in fact, it was business as usual.

The same cannot be said for our post-Y2K healthcare environment. It certainly is not business-as-usual and it’s not one specific “event” or “crisis” or “threat” that we are aiming to address. Let’s review some highlights of our environment and what we need to deal with:

  • It wasn’t long ago that standalone, independent hospitals thrived in a paper-based hospital-centric healthcare delivery environment. Today, the vast majority of these hospitals have integrated with other similar standalone hospitals to form large hospital-centric health-systems and have made significant investments in transforming from paper-based to Electronic Medical Record systems (EMRs). Along the way, a large number of hospitals have not survived the tidal-wave of change and have closed.
  • Advances in medicine and technology, the evolution of data through the use of EMRs, state and federal regulations supported by academic research, as well as the need to reduce the rapidly rising costs of healthcare, have fueled a continuous and significant shift of care delivery from the inpatient to the outpatient setting.
  • Health systems and hospitals have aptly reacted by heavily focusing and investing in building geographically disbursed care delivery networks providing primary and specialty services. The “hub & spoke” model can be seen across the nation.
  • Concurrently, we saw the proliferation of independent physician-owned centers that effectively provide primary and specialty care ranging from diagnostic to treatment services.
  • Today, what was once a physician and hospital-centric delivery environment is transforming to a diverse ecosystem where ownership and delivery of healthcare is no longer limited to hospitals or physicians. Ownership of healthcare delivery centers now include partnerships between physicians and health systems, insurance companies, venture capital firms, private investor groups, retail pharmacies, large retailers both traditional and online as well as employers (buyers).
  • Health systems are crossing state boundaries in an attempt to capture and manage larger populations. Regional health networks are being formed to capitalize on the opportunity of “directing” delivery of care to large masses of our population.
  • Vertical integrations such as CVS/Aetna, Walmart/Humana, United Optum/Davita are blurring the lines of separation between insurers, retailers and providers.
  • Giant, global tech companies are investing significant money, resources to capitalize on the opportunity of building the new healthcare ecosystem.
  • Large, global market makers like JP Morgan, Berkshire/Hathaway and Amazon are teaming up specifically to address healthcare services for their own companies with relative certainty that solutions for their own companies will be scalable and “sellable” to the US and global market.
  • Consumerism, driven by the advances of digital innovation is as real in healthcare as in virtually every other industry.
  • Artificial Intelligence is sweeping the globe and its application will significantly impact healthcare as it will so many other industries.

Let me stop there and take a breath. Never has there been a need to be more open-minded about the future of healthcare. Maintaining focus on the future and discipline on the present is of utmost importance to the success of your expanding organization. Think about it:

  • Geographic health boundaries are expanding beyond the traditional “PSA” or “SSA”.

  • The Digital Revolution that is upon us is fundamentally changing the way we think about the possibilities of managing, treating and perhaps even curing disease.

  • Technology is opening channels of access to provide care in more convenient settings that the traditional: drive to a location-based care model.

  • The advent of consumerism and the proliferation of mobile and wearable technology is forming new layers of connecting with our population.

  • The availability of individual data coupled with the potential for artificial intelligence capacity to process, analyze and identify patterns in the data to drive or alter decision making is captivating and very promising.  

The point is, running an organization today is not the same; hence, we should not attempt to manage geographically expanded operations, in a digital world, and with multiple divisions of services the way we managed independent hospitals. No matter how successful, the future success of integrated networks of health and wellness systems require a different model of bridging distances, connecting multiple access-hubs, keeping innovation at the forefront, engaging partners and stakeholders, staying focused on the critical components that will deliver results, evaluate the expanding ecosystem repeatedly and focus on results.

At Alfa we have refined an operating model that is scalable and specific to the delivery of healthcare services. We understand what it takes to maintain focus and remain in front of the changes that are coming. Our platform is designed to fuel your organization’s strategy so that it can deliver the results you expect. It is scalable and quickly employable to effectuate your organization’s integration and continuous transformation from a hospital-centric model to a regional health-delivery model. It is an operating model that allows for your integrated network’s divisions like hospitals, ambulatory services, physician enterprise, post-acute network, homecare service, retail facilities and digital-care services to strategically align under a common umbrella of system-wide network objectives and critically focus on key components specific to each division to drive the network’s success in a consistent, coordinated and organized approach.

We will give you the knowledge and structure to organize your strategy, translate it to focused measurable actions, engage your stakeholders, establish a common platform for everyone to follow and maintain a close view on the future at all times.

Your expanding integrated health-system network is no longer a solo act. It is a collection of multiple inter-dependent health divisions that must work and act together to deliver the performance your audience expects. The stage that you set and the platform by which you intend to conduct your network’s performance is critical to the outcome. If you have not yet looked or considered changes to your operating model, regardless of the size of your current or intended integrated network, give us a call or email.