Even if you're not participating, these systems can offer broad opportunities for learning what works and what doesn't in the new reimbursement environment. If your organization is not involved in one of those programs, it might not be a bad idea to run through your Rolodex (or Outlook contact list or Blackberry, if you prefer) for professional contacts at those institutions who may be involved with creating the structures of the future.
Place a quick call to renew ties and talk a little bit about the strategies they're testing. Where are they having success, and where are the challenges? Best of all, you don't have to invest the dollars right now until best practices start to shake out. But again, don't wait too long. While others are experimenting, your organization can also do some experimentation on ways to redesign care and realign economic incentives.
3. Investigate how consolidation might help you
This doesn't have to be a full financial merger. But given the fact that reimbursement will be increasingly tied to efficiency and quality, a merger might not be the worst thing to investigate in the new year. Scale will matter, even if it seems it doesn't right now. In one recent conversation I had with a CEO, he mentioned that in the very near future, all healthcare providers, whether they be clinics, hospitals or health systems, will be either buyers or sellers. In many cases recently, that future is now.
Which will you be? If neither, perhaps you are ignoring reality. Perhaps you're a wallflower as the dance begins, looking for the perfect partner. Just be sure that you're not left on that wall waiting for the hottest prospect in the room while perfectly good matches go ignored.