Another, perhaps more productive way to take risk involves the risk that's inherent in any innovation. The risk of building a standalone emergency department, is one example. The risk of employing and managing care coordinators to help keep patients out of the hospital, is another.
In other words, this is a type of risk you'd take in trying to grow any other business, but a type of risk with which much of healthcare is unfamiliar.
To use a gambling analogy, providers of healthcare services are not used to betting on the come in this fashion. Instead, for the past several decades, the customer—whether you define the customer as the government, other payers, employers, or individuals—have paid the freight of the risk-taking, which, predictably, has proven unsustainable in the long term.
Think of the last time you green lighted a capital-intensive project like a heart or cancer center. Did you already know that the fees it would generate would make it successful, or was there a big element of uncertainty? The answer, in many cases, is that it was a no-brainer.
But some organizations are embracing these opportunities to innovate where success is far from guaranteed, and that fact was made apparent to me at a recent Roundtable discussion we hosted here in Nashville (for the November issue of HealthLeaders magazine). In contrast to risk-based payment, rather than worrying about what is being done to you by others, isn't it more exciting and interesting to figure out a better way yourself?