Other systems are more cautious, however. "There's a middle group that I would say has always been supportive of more coordinated care, but just doesn't have the business need or the business model to put the time and energy into it," Chicoine adds. "Then there are the naysayers who are doing all they can to hang on to the status quo and maintain it as long as possible because their business model is based on inefficient volume-based care. A lot of hospitals, unfortunately, fall into that category."
Eventually, Mahan expects health systems to embrace shared savings and do better with care coordination programs. Improved population management programs will "ensure the health of the individual, and ensure that once patients leave the hospital there's a safety net," she predicts.
The availability of meaningful use money probably will spur IT use, as well as marketing by vendors, according to Manas. For some government funds, "It's a one-time shot and we're going to go after it. If you don't, you'll never get those dollars again."
Besides IT, Mahan says transparency must improve, especially involving the purchase of medical devices and the working relationships among physicians and hospitals.
As healthcare leaders anticipate future economic issues, Mahan says one problem is that hospitals don't necessarily control their own cost base. "But if we have better alignment, with the idea of population management, and work toward ensuring the health of the individual, the cost of treating the patient could improve. It's better for the patient, and healthcare will be moving more toward a cooperative than competitive model," she concludes.
This article appears in the June 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.