BIDCO CEO Jeffrey Hulburt: Answers to healthcare's big questions 'lie largely in technology'

In this special Speaker Series, Becker's Healthcare caught up with Jeffrey Hulburt, president and CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Care Organization, an ACO based in Westwood, Mass.  

Mr. Hulburt will give a presentation at Becker's Hospital Review 7th Annual CEO + CFO Roundtable titled "Challenges and Opportunities — the Future of Value-based Care," at noon on Monday, Nov. 12. Learn more about the event and register to attend in Chicago.

Question: How can hospital executives and physicians ensure they're aligned around the same strategic goals?

Jeffrey Hulburt: The Beth Israel Deaconess Care Organization mantra is "bringing hospitals and physicians together." I firmly believe we must bridge the gap to enable hospitals and physicians to seamlessly work together to achieve success in today's ever-changing, risk-focused healthcare environment.

First, value-based care leaders must ensure physicians and hospitals have clearly defined clinical goals that work toward a common purpose. The objectives of population health programs and how they align with shared goals across the organization must be communicated often. Providers who clearly see the benefits of sharing risk and reward are motivated to better manage cost and quality in a value-based care environment.  

Second, you must invest in tools and technology that position your population health management programs for success. At BIDCO, we have invested years of time, resources and effort to capture and improve the quality of our data. We are constantly working toward more comprehensive data integration, marrying clinical, claims, admissions and now scheduling data from all the various providers across our network.

In 2017, we deployed a new population health management system that enables real-time analytics, an innovation that is a key asset for building population health programs and identifying patients who have care gaps, as well as those who would benefit from care management services. Our population health system produces reports to show providers how they are performing on key quality measures as compared to their peers. This level of performance transparency helps to motivate providers on individual measures, and do their part in meeting overarching shared organizational goals.

And finally, my last piece of advice is to organize your operations around alignment and collaboration. Make sure your governance and infrastructure reflect your physicians' and hospitals' values and drive success. At BIDCO, our hospital and physicians members have equal representation on strategic decisions since those decisions impact the care delivered across our entire network.

Q: What keeps you excited and motivated to come to work each day?

JH: :It is no secret that healthcare in the United States is in flux. The urgency of fixing some of our country's most challenging issues is at the forefront of my mind daily. And while the transition toward value-based care and away from fee-for-service is the most significant and positive change, I know we have many mountains to climb before we will be able to see the horizon of true progress.

And so, what keeps me excited and motivated is my quest to think outside the box of established healthcare models and to identify innovative ideas that improve care quality, health outcomes and lower costs. I'm always thinking about how we can provide the best possible care to patients, improve access to care and develop better prevention and intervention programs. How can we be more efficient on the administrative end? How can we better treat and manage diseases and reduce hospital readmissions? And how can physicians and hospitals work together to succeed in risk-based contracts? What better incentives and reimbursement models can we offer? How can providers deliver the healthcare services and programs patients' need within their local communities? How do we coordinate the highest quality of care for very different populations of commercial, Medicare and Medicaid patients across the complex healthcare continuum?

I truly believe many of the answers to these difficult questions lie largely in technology. Technology is the key to providing the holistic view of patients and achieving the Triple Aim of value-based care and to be successful in population health. The year ahead, we will continue to place a heavy emphasis on our technological strategic goals to expand our care management platform capabilities. We plan to expand our platform to include scheduling, admit and discharge and real-time clinical data. And further into the future, we are excited to see how behavioral and socioeconomic data will aid in improving population health. Data analytics can truly influence and improve today's real-time interventions, tomorrow's predictive trends and the prescriptive solutions that are the promise of healthcare's value-based future. And we are only yet scratching the surface with how technology will transform the healthcare landscape with the advances of AI and machine learning, for instance. From rethinking the entire business model of healthcare to the possibilities of the emerging technologies, it's a very exciting time to forge a new and better healthcare frontier. 

Q: What initially piqued your interest in healthcare?

JH: My interested in healthcare started in 10th grade science class. I liked chemistry projects that presented a problem for which we had to find a solution. Understanding how you arrived at the answers really intrigued me — it appealed to my logical side. In college I decided to pursue pre-medicine but switched to pulmonary science because I wanted a practical application of science. After graduating from Boston University, I ran a pulmonary lab where I had the opportunity to interact with and learn from many physicians as I contemplated a medical degree. In particular, I was encouraged by my chief of pulmonary medicine who reinforced the idea that what the healthcare field really needed were data-driven business people who understood what it truly means to deliver healthcare. This piqued my interest as a way I could use my analytical skills to find solutions to some of the country's biggest healthcare challenges. With new focus, I earned my Master of Business Administration from the University of Massachusetts ‒ Boston. I was content to put aside my clinical interests knowing that a role in healthcare administration would position me to help solve some of our country's very profound healthcare challenges that will ultimately lead to better delivery of healthcare for all.

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