Healthcare re-imagined by CEOs

Healthcare experienced a seismic shift in the last few years, enduring the COVID-19 pandemic, workforce shortages, inflation and rapid technological advancement. Hospitals and health systems can't operate the way they did for decades and stay financially viable.

"Last year, our industry faced an economic tsunami, and while I don't think we are currently facing a giant wave, the healthcare industry continues to navigate rough waters, dominated by increasing costs, shrinking margins, staffing issues and an ever increasing need to re-imagine how we deliver care," Cliff Megerian, MD, CEO of University Hospitals in Cleveland, told Becker's.

Before the pandemic, University Hospitals had a robust strategic plan which accelerated last year, and this year the system completed a $236 million expansion of its UH Ahuja Medical Center, formed a joint venture to expand urgent care, and launched the Veale Initiative for Health Care Innovation, focused on the transition to value-based care.

"As we commence through the second half of the year, we will execute additional aspects of our plan: volume enhancement through care re-imagination, optimizing our cost structure, and implementation of a new electronic health record for our system," said Dr. Megerian. "Our systems of care operating model will create volume centers throughout our system. Importantly, this model will help us increase volume and market share in services that are growing and more evenly distribute our volume."

The operating model optimizes resource utilization while taking reimbursement and cost structures into account, said Dr. Megerian. The ultimate goal is to elevate services delivered to patients and improve outcomes with concentrated volumes, which University Hospitals has already demonstrated with its centers of excellence.

Nancy Howell Agee, CEO of Carilion Clinic, is also focused on re-imaging healthcare delivery by leveraging technology to ease administrative burden on clinicians and focus on workforce development. She also sees financial recovery as an important focus for the next six months.

"It's going to get harder to achieve a significant margin just as we need to invest in technology and care for our aging community," she told Becker's. "At least in the short run, these investments will be cost-intensive. That's why we're pushing hard on both talent and care redesign."

Hal Paz, MD, CEO of Stony Brook University Medicine and executive vice president of health sciences at Stony Brook University, said transformation from a collection of hospitals to a health system leveraging synergies for better patient care over the last few years has advanced healthcare delivery; but the evolution isn't done.

"The next step is the creation of healthcare platforms that achieve the highest quality care possible for everyone beginning in their home and local community," Dr. Paz told Becker's. "In doing so, we can best address, not just healthcare, but also the social, behavioral and environmental determinants of health."

Dr. Paz and his team at Stony Brook University are instilling the platform mentality into training programs for the future workforce, incorporating artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual and digital technologies into courses to prepare the graduates for the future of healthcare. The educational foundation also focuses on advancing value in healthcare and improving the health and well-being of diverse populations.

Their efforts will ideally mean fewer patients in the hospital, but healthier communities overall.

"Personalized healthcare will be critical for patients to stay out of the hospital through preventative care and education," said Dr. Paz. "High-quality hospitals that are value-driven and care for the critically ill are not going away, but it is essential for us to develop innovative, seamless approaches to deliver the right care, at the right time and in the right place."

Read more about where health systmem CEOs are focused for the next six months here.


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