What happens when healthcare needs a checkup of its own?

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What happens when healthcare needs a checkup of its own?

September 06, 2019
Business Affairs
By Kees Wesdorp

Healthcare providers are focused on the care of their patients, as they should be, but oftentimes this means that various other priorities, including the business side of healthcare, get put on autopilot. While this approach is certainly understandable, given the rising pressures and limited resources providers face, it’s not beneficial to the hospitals themselves or the larger global healthcare economy long-term. Ironically, it seems that as healthcare providers advise their patients to take a proactive approach to overall personal health and well-being, they themselves sometimes struggle to keep their own organization “healthy”.

If hospitals had to undergo a yearly “business health” checkup, how many of them would pass? How many healthcare organizations actively run their practices with continuous short- and long-term improvement gains? How many providers analyze market conditions and patient populations with advanced data analytics to create targeted services or order-to-schedule referral increases? How many are still pursuing transactional relationships with vendors versus strategic partnerships that align investments with key care pathway objectives?

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The answer is — not many — and it’s not surprising. While several hospitals are successfully and simultaneously achieving both exemplary patient care and business model efficiency, for others, it’s just not possible in today’s healthcare environment. There is not a “generic prescription” for the business of healthcare; every organization is different. The remedy must take into account many variables, just like the tailored treatments for the patients they care for each day.

One of the biggest factors is that many of today’s traditional healthcare business models have restrained capital. When capital resources are constrained, hospitals operate in a cost-cutting, sometimes shortsighted, reactive mode rather than a strategic, continuous improvement, proactive mode. A misaligned incentive structure and piecemeal approach to capital planning and strategic purchasing doesn’t work anymore. With the focus shifting to value-based care, traditional business models will only continue to put more pressure on healthcare organizations as they strive to deliver on the goals of the Quadruple Aim: improving the patient and staff experience, improving health outcomes and lowering the cost of care.

Ultimately, in every market and every region, healthcare providers are trying to increase the quality of care while also decreasing the cost of care. The industry is fundamentally shifting toward integrated solutions that augment imaging equipment with software applications, informatics, and artificial intelligence as well as workflow tools that make imaging innovation more impactful to patient care, staff workflow and business objectives. When it comes to radiology, hospitals aren’t looking for imaging vendors to drop off a scanner and walk away; they want value within and on top of that scanner. Value, in this case, is defined based on tangible outcomes that leverage capabilities across the organization for clinical, workflow and operational performance improvement at the enterprise level.

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