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CEO: Hospitals Should be 'Like the Maytag Repair Man'

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, January 11, 2013

As the leader of NCH Healthcare System in Naples, FL, Allen Weiss, MD, would like to see fewer people using his hospitals for care.

In theory, so would we all. Hospitals, in a generic sense, are more than ever, for serious illnesses. They're also expensive, and as many hospital safety reports in recent years have shown us, often deadly.

Hospital and health system executives who realize that the unsustainable cost trajectory of healthcare threatens their continued existence are many. Just witness the ever-increasing number of merger announcements in recent months.

But even among that group, you'll find a few who think spending is likely to level out sooner rather than later. These are the early adopters of new ways to create incentives for healthcare organizations to keep people healthy.

Count Alan Weiss among them.

An aim of keeping people out of the hospital is not the kind of thing a hospital CEO with 75% of his local market share is expected to say, even in this enlightened time. Yet Weiss is convinced that his health system's future lies in finding ways to keep his beds empty. And unlike many others, he's taking steps to make sure that happens sooner rather than later.

But a couple of things have to happen first.

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3 comments on "CEO: Hospitals Should be 'Like the Maytag Repair Man'"


Jimmy St louis (1/25/2013 at 1:05 PM)
Great article! A more efficient system, although a longer path is certainly a preventative care model, accompanied by a model for ongoing patient health maintenance. We have written about this article in our blog at blogs.ahcps.com. In alignment with your article, it is our belief that an emphasis on creating a stronger knowledge base for our patients, accompanied by more control over their health is a key tool in lowering healthcare costs and creating a healthier "you". This adoption both by the consumer and provider will be key in the successful implementation.

David Massey (1/14/2013 at 5:52 PM)
While this deals with one of the root causes behind exploding healthcare costs there are other areas where improvement in skill sets can lead to significant and, in many cases, immediate reductions in cost of doing business. Specifically, people in charge of managing direct and indirect spend. I have discovered a significant lack of skill sets as evidenced through how supply chain/materials management personnel conduct their procurement; manage strategic acquisitions; lack of well-crafted policies and procedures; absence of formal personnel training programs and so on. Frankly, compared to other industries, such as Aerospace, healthcare supply chains and the quality of its materials management personnel is woeful.

Janice Miller (1/12/2013 at 1:55 PM)
I enjoyed this article and believe its way past time for this change to begin. I am a firm believer in LEAN programs and witnessed more waste of funds due to lack of knowledge and reliance on people who have held the same administrative positions for 30 years or more. Fresh insight from those who have been on the front line of the healthcare battle have been ignored. Here's an example, a hospital in Weirton, West Virginia takes nasal cultures from every patient admitted, every time they move to another room, and when the patient is released. This is just to check for MRSA. It stemmed from one patient threatening a lawsuit because they claimed they caught MRSA at the hospital. Those on the front line explain the waste and increased cost but it falls on deaf ears. I suggest hospitals ask personnel for suggestions and actually listen.