Leadership, Physician Alignment, and Service Line Success

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media , March 13, 2012
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Demographics has taken on a great importance in development of service lines into various aspects of care, with some increasing their service line programs in wellness or neurological programs, as well as residential home healthcare to increase the potential for improvement in continuum of care, Ritz says.

While 93% are developing or incorporating outpatient programs to support their service lines, 24% say their outpatient programs are competing with their own service lines.

Susan Stone, chief nursing officer at the Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego, says she was surprised that not more healthcare executives are investigating the impact of outpatient services on their healthcare system. "We've seen in the nation how much specialty outpatient there is. It is going to be very interesting, whether it is overdone or oversized," Stone says. "It's a little bit of a dance, and it is going to be very interesting, whether it is overdone or oversized," Stone says.

To deal with physician alignment issues, hospitals are leaning toward a comanagement structure. The survey shows that healthcare leaders favor co-leadership, 66%; administration-led, 41%; and physician-led, 16%.

"[Comanagement] is really more difficult than it sounds; effective physician leaders are relatively rare and successful departmental managers do not necessarily have the same skill set to be successful service line administrators," Savitch says. Many independent providers "have been narrowly focused on their niche within the market for many years, and are neither concerned nor interested in being a part of the bigger picture."

"An effective leadership team for the service line can drive integration, develop and drive improvement in clinical performance metrics, and create value for patients," Savitch says.

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This article appears in the March 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.
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