By Brent Shafer
Health care is an industry of contrasts.
On the one hand, rich in innovation, first-rate talent and technology. On the other, far too complex with barriers to care delivery and burdens for patients and providers. However, technology and the capabilities of connected devices, with the breadth of data they capture, can offer solutions for seamless care and a more intuitive and advanced health care system. Unfortunately, this also reveals that a gap remains between the development of these innovations and the process in which they are fully integrated for use by physicians and patients alike.
As noted in this year’s Philips Future Health Index, both health care providers (86 percent) and consumers (61 percent) believe a more integrated health care system would improve the quality of health care in the U.S. Making this level of integrated care a reality largely falls on the shoulders of hospital executives and clinicians, who need vendors with solutions and services that remove complexity and improve operational efficiency for seamless care, connecting people, technology and data across the health continuum.
Driving the right care
To create and maintain a successful infrastructure for integrated, quality care, health systems need to look beyond “vendors” and seek out like-minded, long-term strategic partners. These partnership models help health systems achieve “The Three Rights" – the right care, in the right place, at the right time. With an operational framework to bring innovative ideas to fruition while managing cost, these extended engagements also help health systems demonstrate their commitment to improving the patient experience. Ultimately, they advance the collective goal of the health care industry: to achieve better outcomes while improving the patient and staff experience, at a lower cost.
Achieving the right care requires collaboration. As executives contemplate entering a long-term strategic partnership, some of the ways these models can help achieve the right care include:
• Collaborative research and innovation: By working with a strategic partner, hospitals and health systems will be able to collaborate on clinical research initiatives that are most relevant to their direct needs, while also limiting the costs and other barriers associated with developing these innovations.
• Information and solution integration: Strategic partnerships will allow both parties to navigate new solutions and related data to determine how to best leverage these advancements when solving an applicable patient or organizational issue.
• State-of-the-art medical technologies and consulting services: One of the advantages to entering a strategic partnership is gaining access to the latest medical technologies and services that each party can provide to help push their mission forward. By utilizing these available resources together, we can achieve meaningful and sustainable operational and clinical improvements, reaping the rewards of a successful outcome.
• Focused education, clinical and technical services: An essential component to the success of these strategic relationships lies in the proper education as well as clinical and technical service resources from the health care technology partner, working closely with the health care system’s network of clinicians and executives. By providing them with the proper resources, key performance indicators can be developed jointly to measure progress on critical challenges and ensure the partnership is achieving its goals.
In the right place
Long-term strategic partnerships are familiar territory for Philips, including the recent 15-year, long-term agreement with Phoenix Children’s Hospital this year – the first stand-alone children’s health system to do so. Through this partnership, Philips and Phoenix Children’s have built upon their pre-established clinical excellence in diagnostic imaging, patient monitoring and high standards of patient care for children.
A key milestone of this strategic partnership is the opening of Phoenix Children’s emergency department (ED) and Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center, which features a suite of connected technologies and solutions from Philips, providing clinicians with advanced imaging systems in computed tomography (CT), digital radiography and ultrasound. The new, $40 million, 42,000-square-foot ED represents the second pediatric hospital in the nation to provide critical imaging of traumatic injuries, tumors, vascular structures and infections with a single CT scan, allowing for earlier diagnosis and helping care providers refine their treatment strategy.
At the right time
Health technology providers and health care professionals are working toward the same goal: extending beyond the hospital to breaking the cycle of “sick care” vs. “health” care. This will require a new standard of seamless care achieved through connected technology for first-time-right diagnosis, getting patients to treatment faster, with improved outcomes. These long-term strategic partnerships have the power to dramatically alter the delivery of health care throughout the industry for the better, making them a vital part of breaking down the barriers to The Three Rights.
About the author: Brent Shafer is the chief executive officer of Philips North America. During his tenure at Philips, Shafer has served as chief executive officer of the Philips Home Healthcare Solutions business. Under his leadership, the group achieved significant growth, expanded its portfolio of offerings and secured inroads into new markets around the globe. In 2014, he was promoted to CEO of Philips North America. He started his career at Intermountain Healthcare’s Primary Children’s Hospital and completed his bachelor’s degree and additional graduate coursework at the University of Utah.