Healthcare CEOs Reveal Cost-Reduction Strategies

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media , October 12, 2012

"The real opportunities going forward will be in utilization—clinical utilization," said Paul Kronenberg, MD, CEO of Crouse Hospital in Syracuse, NY.

To hear shop talk from this group around process re-engineering was somewhat of a surprise. You get used to thinking of CEOs as somewhat disengaged from the messy details of healthcare. You think they prefer to focus almost exclusively on the big picture.

In other words, they hire others to handle these matters. But what I found was a group of CEOs who are intimately engaged with strategies aimed at cutting overutilization. This means we were absolutely right in targeting the high cost of waste as a key strategic issue in which they are intimately involved.

Overutilization of healthcare services, supplies, and labor is kind of like that itch on your back that you just can't scratch. You know it's there, and it's a huge distraction. You know you have to get on with your other work, but you just can't quite put that itch out of your mind. I came away from this discussion knowing that a certain group of senior leaders has procured back-scratchers, and they know how to use them.

Crouse, for example, has made it a priority to engage significant medical staff in its clinical utilization program.

"We hired quality officers that are full time physicians in surgery and medicine who are looking not just at quality, but at utilization tied to quality," Kronenberg says.

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