Improving Care, Improving Business

Edward Prewitt, for HealthLeaders Media , March 13, 2014
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This article appears in the March 2014 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

What's your prognosis for population health? The Council Connection section in every issue of HealthLeaders magazine reaches out to members of the HealthLeaders Media Council—7,000-plus leaders from hospitals, health systems, physician groups, payers, and other healthcare organizations who help us with our research—for their insights on current topics in healthcare. Overwhelmingly, healthcare leaders are embracing population health management: 46% say their organizations are fully committed and have initiatives underway, another 27% are testing pilots or experimental programs, and most of the rest are preparing to launch programs.

In this issue's Council Connection (page 8), four executives talk about their preparations for population health. Each faces a different situation, but a common thread is that they are working across the care continuum. They know they must look beyond acute care hospitals. Jim Nathan, CEO of Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, Fla., tells HealthLeaders that "We are developing an extensive continuum-of-care model for nonacute care services through both owned and independent community health and human services providers." Lee Memorial operates four acute care hospitals and two specialty hospitals along with a bevy of community health centers and outpatient facilities. Yet Nathan knows he must go beyond his walls to accommodate the changes in the healthcare business today.

Our cover story, "Shifting Patient Patterns" (starting on page 12), is a comprehensive look at the complexities that healthcare leaders face. Many acute care hospitals are recording shrinking inpatient volumes, even as they worry that newly insured patients will crowd emergency rooms. Some leaders are responding by opening outpatient facilities or partnering with existing operators. Other organizations target population health management through medical homes and ACOs. Still, says William Conway, MD, who is executive vice president and chief quality officer for Henry Ford Health System in Detroit and CEO of the Henry Ford Medical Group, "The scary part and the hardest thing is nobody really knows what consumers are going to do."

There is truth to the saying "Healing is an art, medicine is a profession, and healthcare is a business." Healthcare today is a difficult business. Yet the many healthcare executives I speak with, including CEOs, CFOs, and other business-side leaders, seem to never lose sight of their healing mission.

This article appears in the March 2014 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Edward Prewitt is the Editorial Director of HealthLeaders Media.




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