This is part of hc1.com’s In My Opinion series – a variety of blog posts curated by our Advisory Board members focusing on their opinions about healthcare today.
Historically, healthcare has always been the one industry that has stubbornly resisted the ‘business mentality’ that most corporate operations cling to. Now, a growing and aging population, government regulations, and other economic headwinds have forced large hospitals and health systems to begin to function more like the growth oriented enterprises they truly are. The recent increase in consolidations and acquisitions now makes it possible for healthcare organizations to deliver the highest level of care to more patients than ever before. However, this consolidation isn’t just an opportunity for huge health systems to throw their weight, community influence, and money around. Smart healthcare organizations are growing bigger not for the sake of volume alone, but for the sake of value as well.
As healthcare shifts from quantity to quality, value-driven health systems are acquiring or aligning with smaller healthcare organizations and physician practices, bulking up their esoteric offerings on a wider scale. This way, they can deliver better healthcare to a wider patient population. By catering to the consumer, or in this case the patient, providers are identifying, attracting, and attempting to retain a larger share of their target markets.
Take, for example, the hospital laboratory. Although the lab contributes over 80% of the information to the patient’s EMR, and most of the treatment decisions are based on this data, all of the labs in the U.S. combined only amount to about 2% of healthcare spending. In an economic healthcare environment of increasing demand and decreasing resources, it’s not efficient or fiscally responsible to have thousands of small independent labs around the country running the same routine tests at a higher cost than the larger, more efficient labs. With the growth and development of more automated testing and the rise of large, full-service commercial and esoteric labs, more tests can be performed for less – but problems still arise when results are transferred across multiple disparate systems of record.
The problem - in layman’s terms - is getting the right data to the right people at the right time to best care for each individual patient. The best way to achieve this is having the technology that brings together patient-centric data across the healthcare continuum and personalizes healthcare for the patients and providers to improve the healthcare journey. If a health system has made strategic acquisitions – and has equipped all partners in the new organization with the right technology – secure communication and collaboration between labs, doctors, patients, and other appropriate personnel will be seamless and lead to greater patient satisfaction and, consequently, value.
It is an exciting time to be in the healthcare business, with so many challenges and so many changes occurring – and so many more still on the horizon. As long as healthcare organizations can stay a step ahead of the volume–to–value curve, and embrace the technology that allows us to take advantage of all this data, the future should be healthier and the patient’s path through the healthcare journey a little brighter!
Dr. Charlie Miraglia currently serves as the Executive Director of Medical Affairs at hc1.com. He previously served as Chief Medical Officer of Sonic Healthcare USA.