'Shoot to where the puck is going': Health systems' biggest growth opportunities

From expanding health plans to developing destination programs and ramping up their ambulatory surgery center presence, health systems are focused on growth in many areas. 

CEOs and CFOs from Trinity, Northwell, Intermountain and IU Health recently told Becker's about their biggest opportunities for growth.

Editor's note: Responses are lightly edited for length and clarity.

Mike Slubowski: CEO of Trinity Health (Livonia, Mich.): You have to shoot to where the puck is going, and ambulatory surgery is rapidly moving to freestanding ASCs, so we have partnerships with a number of physician groups to do freestanding ambulatory surgery. We're starting to open a lot more freestanding ASCs. Care is shifting away from hospital-based ambulatory surgery as well because patients and payers don't want to cover the additional cost of being hospital-based. There is such a proliferation of ASCs being developed by investors or physician-owned groups and health systems like ours. In the future, I think you're going to see an oversaturation of ASCs, which we are already seeing in some markets.

Janie Wade: CFO of Intermountain Health (Salt Lake City): Our biggest growth opportunity is our insurance plan, SelectHealth. It allows us to move into markets like Colorado, where we're going to be operating a plan in 2024 for Medicare Advantage and the individual exchange. We have a partnership in Colorado with UCHealth in a clinically integrated network, which is something we think will deliver a lot of value to the community in terms of value-based care in a way that's never been done in Colorado before. 

There's also tuck-in growth opportunities including ASCs, imaging centers and physician practice acquisitions. We don't have any large merger and acquisition targets on the horizon. It's primarily growth in our existing markets in the communities we already serve and bringing our quality of care, affordability and innovation into those communities with new providers and services. 

Michael Dowling. CEO of Northwell Health (New Hyde Park, N.Y.): Our biggest growth is in outpatient care. A lot of surgeries are moving outpatient, so we have to get ahead of that. Some think we are only a hospital system, but only about 46 percent of our business is from our hospital sector today. Home care is going to grow phenomenally, especially given the new technology that's available. Digital health will also dramatically expand. 

We're also looking at expanding into new geographic areas and markets. It's about positioning your offerings in places close to where people live, so you reduce the inconvenience of people having to travel long distances for care when it should be available to them closer to home. When you do that, you increase market share. We're constantly increasing our market share by being very aggressive about going to where the customer is and providing the highest quality care that we can. Part of that is also being able to recruit top-line, quality physicians. When you do that, you attract new business because you have competencies that you didn't have before. It's a combination of all of these things, but there's certainly no limit to the opportunities in front of us. We're not in a world of challenges; we're in a world of opportunity. The question is are we aggressive enough and do we have enough tolerance for some risk? We need to be as aggressive as we possibly can to take advantage of some of those opportunities.

Jennifer Alvey. CFO of IU Health (Indianapolis): Our big area of focus is on our destination programs. We are on the cutting edge of oncology, neurosciences/neurosurgery, and we are really expanding our cardiovascular service line, too. We've doubled down on those three programs in partnership with the IU School of Medicine to lead in the area of physician education, research, clinical programs and having nationally known physicians in those specialties. We also expect to see a lot of material growth in those three areas in the next several years. 

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