Healthcare Issues & Trends

Advice & Insights for healthcare's Leaders & HR Professionals


Long-term Strategy and Leadership

Posted on October 30, 2015 by James A. Rice, Ph.D., FACHE

Board engagement and a committed senior leadership team are essential to fostering a health system's shared vision, aligning organizational components so that the health system can best pursue this vision, and building a commitment to the vision at all levels of the organization. 

To become a high-performance organization, a health system needs senior leaders who are drivers of continuous improvement and whose styles and substance are in accord with the way the health system sees its mission and its own character.

To create a workforce that shares this vision and is aware of the contribution that each employee and physician can, and must, make toward achieving it, the health system's senior leaders must work as a team to convey a clear and consistent portrayal of this vision throughout the organization by their words and deeds and the example they set.  

Board leaders and career managers may bring differing values to the team, but they must work at building mutual understanding and trust, and at committing themselves to a shared set of goals for their health system.  These coals can take years to achieve, so the health system must have a succession planning strategy that ensures a sustained commitment and continuity of leadership even as individual leaders arrive or depart.  When planning for a health system's future, Boards and leaders should consider the following three questions:

  1. Defining Leadership. Has the health system defined the kind of Board and executive leaders it wants (i.e., their roles, responsibilities, attributes, and competencies) and the broad performance expectations it has for them in light of the Health System's shared vision?
  2. Teamwork and Communications.  Do senior leaders pursue an explicit strategy to promote teamwork, communicate the Health System's shared vision in clear and consistent terms to all levels of the organization, and receive feedback from employees?
  3. Ensuring Continuity.  Does the Board take steps to ensure reasonable continuity of leadership through executive succession and continuity planning?

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Talent Wars -- Board Oversight of C-Suite Leadership Development

Posted on October 30, 2015 by James A. Rice, Ph.D., FACHE

The Boards of tomorrow's high performing accountable care organizations must be champions for modern Human Capital & Talent Management.  Health care systems are unlikely to succeed unless they thrive in the "Talent War" of competition for excellent people to join the clinical, support, and leadership teams of our health systems. 

We encourage client health and hospital systems to develop, and continuously enhance, modern systems and a culture for "Human Culture & Talent Management". 

The strategic framework and budget for this human capital management should be shaped by the results of periodic self-assessments by the Board and CEO of the scope and nature of the organization's human capital arrangements, and innovative ways to enhance a culture that is:

  • Patient centered;
  • Performance driven; and
  • Values based.
Simply stated, human capital means people: nurses, physicians leaders, allied health professionals, and managers.  There are two key principles that are central to the human capital idea: 
  1. First, people are respected resources whose value can be enhanced through careful investments and management.
  2. Second, an organization's human capital policies must be aligned to support the organization's "shared vision"- that is, the mission, vision for the future, core values, goals and objectives, and strategies by which the organization has defined its direction and its performance expectations for itself and its people. All human capital policies an practices should be designed, implemented, and assessed by the standard of how well they help the organization pursue its shared vision.
At most health systems, the lion's share of operating costs is devoted to its people.  For this reason, employees traditionally have been viewed through the budgetary lens, and often seen as "costs to be cut" rather than as "assets to be valued and developed".  However, high performance organizations in both the private and public sectors recognize that an organization's people largely determine its capacity to perform.  These high performing organizations understand that the value and vitality of the organization, and its success in turbulent markets, is dependent on the value of its people.  Enhancing the value of employees is a win-win goal for employers and employees alike.  
 
The more the Board and senior executives of an organization recognize the intrinsic value of each person engaged in the service for the health of patients and communities; the more it recognizes that this value can be enhanced with nurturing and investment; the more it recognizes that employees vary in their talents and motivations, and that a variety of incentive strategies and working arrangements can be created to enhance each person's contributions to the organizational performance, the more likely the organization will be to appreciate the variety of employee needs and circumstances, and to act in ways that will make sense in both business and human terms.  

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The Price Must Be Right with Healthcare Consumerism

Posted on September 29, 2015 by Gallagher Integrated

As healthcare organizations shift their sights towards clinical integration, it is important that their efforts address the ever-growing trend of price comparison in healthcare consumerism. Although technology integration and convenience of delivery are huge issues dominating the consumerism landscape, an often over-looked aspect of consumerism is the need for pricing transparency and competition.

In our most recent whitepaper, “A New Meeting Place: The Impact of Increasing Healthcare Consumerism on Clinical Integration,” we discuss how the need for pricing transparency and competition will impact organizations’ clinical integration efforts:

  • The Rise of Research: 56% of Americans have researched prices for healthcare services. Of that 56%, 21% believe that researching healthcare prices helped them save money and 7% say their findings influenced their choice of provider. And despite the fact that not all of that 56% say they believe researching saved them money, 82% say they will compareprices again.
  • Consumers and Quality: How do the issues of quality of care and price of care affect one another? They’re mostly on par, but it’s important for healthcare organizations to note that f a hospital’s quality is within one quality grade of another and there is a $1,000 price difference or more, consumers will more commonly choose one quality grade lower (but no more than one) if it will save them $1,000 or more.
  • More Than Millennials: It’s not just Millennials who are researching prices for healthcare services; as the adoption of HDHPs continues to rise year after year, many healthy 35+ year-old Americans with full-time employment have coverage through only an HDHP, which means the first $4,000 to $10,000 comes directly out of their pocket. Their goal is to not have to invoke that plan to pay—unless they have a “catastrophic healthcare event” in their lives.

Pricing competition and transparency is just one of the three major issues affecting the healthcare consumerism environment. For more about the other issues—and pricing competition and transparency—download the whitepaper today. 

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Primary Care Physician Loyalty: A Millennial’s Perspective

Posted on September 29, 2015 by Gallagher Integrated

As technology integration, convenience of delivery, and pricing competition and transparency become bigger players in the healthcare world, healthcare consumers are not just becoming savvy—they’re becoming demanding. Many healthcare organizations—and particularly primary care physicians—now find it difficult to compete for these consumers against big box competitors like Walgreens or CVS MinuteClinic®, which offer walk-in, same-day appointments. As a result of these new and more convenient options, there is less patient-physician loyalty.

Although this trend is affecting all generations, it is particularly strong among Millennials, who often value convenience and price above all else. In our latest whitepaper, “A New Meeting Place: The Impact of Increasing Healthcare Consumerism on Clinical Integration,” we interviewed a Millennial about why they choose not to have a primary care physician. Here are a few insights gleaned from the interview:

  • On patient loyalty: “My healthcare decisions are based on convenience and quality, not loyalty. And that’s in part because I don’t feel like the healthcare industry has caught up with what every other business has had to learn—that to get loyalty, you have to earn it.
  • On how PCPs can earn Millennials’ business: “…being tech- friendly, convenient, and responsive are important to people in my generation. And people my age have nearly countless options available when it comes to their medical care. If you want to know how to get my business, start by thinking of me as a customer just as much as a patient, because as far as I’m concerned, I am.”

These are just a few of the insights. For access to the full interview, plus even more information about consumerism and clinical integration, download the free whitepaper.

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3 Consumerism Trends Healthcare Organizations Need to Know

Posted on September 22, 2015 by Gallagher Integrated


The era of healthcare consumerism is now in its second decade—and all signs seem to indicate that consumerism will only continue to dominate the healthcare landscape. With the knowledge that consumerism is here to stay, the question becomes: what can organizations do to stay competitive in this changing healthcare environment?

Across the country, healthcare organizations are shifting their sights towards clinical integration. It is becoming increasingly clear that consumerism must not be overlooked when it comes to any organization’s clinical integration efforts. In our most recent whitepaper, “A New Meeting Place: The Impact of Increasing Healthcare Consumerism on Clinical Integration,” we outline three strategic areas for healthcare organizations to focus on:

  1. Convenience of Delivery: Patients are giving up physician loyalty in droves, and they’re giving it up for one simple reason—convenience. Healthcare organizations now must compete with big-box healthcare options like Walgreens and CVS. Not only is this true for future patients, but also for current ones, who may utilize a MinuteClinic if their primary care physician can’t fit them in for an appointment as quickly as they would like.
  2. Pricing Competition and Transparency: As the rate of HDHP adoption continues to rise every year, Americans are beginning to spend more out-of-pocket on their own healthcare. This means that they are shopping, or price-comparing, their personal healthcare and looking for the best value. They want greater access to pricing (including online), and as these prices become more transparent, healthcare organizations will have to find ways to compete against one another for that business.
  3. Technology Integration: Consumers are more digital and mobile than ever. As Millennials begin taking a more active role not only in their own healthcare, but also their parents’ and grandparents’, healthcare organizations will need to provide new services in the digital and mobile space.

It’s easy to identify the three biggest factors in healthcare consumerism today, but it’s even more critical to identify actionable insights that healthcare organizations can utilize in order to affect important changes that will position them for profitable futures. Download the whitepaper today to learn more about the these three issues dominating the consumerism landscape and how healthcare organizations can use them in their clinical integration efforts.

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