Put simply, incentives work. And thanks to incentives, hospitals and health systems are paying much more than lip service to care coordination and developing a culture in which fewer resources are wasted, patient satisfaction is actually important, and teamwork across departments is rewarded. (You can argue either way whether incentives that engender care coordination and patient satisfaction are carrots or sticks, or whether they're optimal.)
It's been a long time coming.
Care coordination takes teamwork, which is why at least this group of leaders is serious about seeking individuals who, as one colorfully put it, "are comfortable playing in others' sandboxes and comfortable with others playing in theirs."
The industry is already turbulent as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act begins to take effect, and as payers, providers, and even hospitals try to get a handle on healthcare costs. But one person's cost is another's margin, and healthcare leaders must dance on an ever narrowing tightrope as they try to work smarter.
High levels of utilization, which used to pay hospitals and health systems' bills and salaries (and in many cases, still do),are no longer acceptable. And accountability for results, not just procedures, is adding a big layer of complexity to the art of running a hospital or health system.
But thanks to increased rewards for teamwork, at least you don't have to do it alone.
There are other interesting discussions with hospital executives in the Roundtables section. Access is free.