For hospitals and health systems to achieve the kind of deep, sustainable cost reductions that will be required for success in the new era of healthcare, they must collect and mine data to alter clinician behavior, use evidence-based medicine to reduce variations in care, foster strong physician leadership, and establish a senior administration that leads by example.
That was the consensus among the financial leaders who recently participated in three roundtable sessions I moderated on protecting the bottom line at HealthLeaders Media's fourth annual CFO Exchange in San Diego.
Harnessing the data
To create a clinical enterprise built on evidence-based medicine, health systems need to provide data to physicians, says Jerry Arndt, senior vice president at Gundersen Health System, based in La Crosse, WI.
"I think at the heart of this whole question is good data and transparency. The variation that exists around utilization and practice protocols is amazing. To understand why that variation is what it is, you have to have the data, and you have to be willing to talk about it at the individual doctor level," he says.
From his experience, physicians are eager to have data to support their clinical decision-making and are willing to engage in discussions about how to use data to make appropriate changes to their practices.