March 2004

Expert Views on Health Care Featured at Strategic Planning Summit


Catholic Health Initiatives’ first Strategic Planning Summit, held February 11 in Denver, Colo., was designed to challenge the Strategic Planning Steering Committee’s thinking about the future of health care. At the summit, the committee heard from industry thought leaders on a variety of important health care topics. “The Board of Stewardship Trustees suggested that this strategic planning cycle would be well served by engaging expert opinions from outside the Catholic Health Initiatives organization,” said John Anderson, MD, a member of the board and chair of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee. “The keynote speakers and panel of experts helped us consider and discuss many of the most critical strategic issues facing the organization as we develop the update of the strategic plan for 2006 through 2010.” The summit included presentations from keynote speakers Michael Sachs of Sg-2 and Leanne Kaiser Carlson of the Kaiser Institute. “They presented different, but complementary, views of the future of health care,” said Bob Cook, vice president of strategic planning for Catholic Health Initiatives. “They got our summit off to an excellent start.” After listening to the keynote speakers, the committee members engaged in discussion with expert panelists (see page 6) from various sectors of health care. The key topics discussed include: Medical and Information Technology A clinical information system (CIS) should be a tool for transformation. Catholic Health Initiatives must develop an extraordinarily strong strategic vision and business case for its CIS. In addition, Catholic Health Initiatives must build strong commitment from leadership and resources at all levels to support the design, building and implementation of CIS. The CIS should not be “sold” to physicians as a tool for enhancing daily productivity, but promoted as a tool to provide higher-quality care. Continuum of Care While many health care organizations have a broad continuum of services, there is still a need to break down “silos of care” in order to truly integrate health care delivery. Health systems can achieve substantial economic benefit by more effectively transitioning patients to the most appropriate, cost-effective venues of care. Opportunities include:
  • Improving patient outcomes.
  • Better managing peak demand for inpatient beds.
  • Further reducing inpatient length of stay and costs.
  • Enhancing patient and physician satisfaction.
Demographics and Consumerism Our society continues to debate whether health care should be a fundamental societal good or a privatized, consumer-driven commodity. Hospitals and physicians are caught in the middle of this debate. Hospitals should prepare to be criticized as patients begin to pay more hospital costs out of their own pockets. Rural Health Care Many models from outside the United States clearly demonstrate that rural hospitals can be connected to tertiary care facilities, operate efficiently and achieve excellent outcomes. A rural health care model for the future may include:
  • Constructing “right-sized” facilities built to 21st century specifications.
  • Ensuring that facilities are changeable enough to accomplish an organization’s mission over time.
  • Using information technology and referral relationships to enhance access to triage and care.
Policy and Payment Issues Health insurers will continue to consolidate into national mega-insurers. Changes in health benefits will result inpatients paying larger portions of their health care costs, via premiums, co-pays and out-of-pocket payments. “Patient purchasers” will demand more provider information on price amenities and clinical outcomes. In addition, payers are at the forefront of serving as information portals for their enrollees. Once payers establish these relationships, it will be difficult for hospitals and health systems to change the patterns. “All of these themes will be explored in more detail as the next edition of Catholic Health Initiatives’ National HealthCare Environmental Assessment is developed,” said John DiCola, senior vice president of strategy and business development for Catholic Health Initiatives. “We expect the next edition of the environmental assessment to be ready for distribution in April.” For more information about the strategic plan update process, contact Bob Cook at bobcook@catholichealth.net. Watch for more information about the strategic plan in future issues of Initiatives.

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