Trinity Health's 2-pronged strategies for 2024

Ray Anderson, PhD — the new chief strategy officer at Livonia, Mich.-based Trinity Health — is tasked with executing the system's game plan across its 101 hospitals in 27 states. 

It's a balancing act between standardization and the "intimate," "local" care environment that builds patient trust and allows providers to thrive, Dr. Anderson told Becker's Dec. 12, his 35th day on the job. 

"It's important to balance the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, and leverage the strengths of a large national ministry while also understanding that [regional] ministries are amazing learning labs to provide an opportunity for us to experiment with new models of care and really drive some of the innovative care models," Dr. Anderson said. 

Plans of massive scale are nothing new for Dr. Anderson, who joined Trinity Health from St. Louis-based Ascension, where he served at both the national and regional level. He spent the past decade in Austin as chief strategy officer of Ascension Texas, and plans to apply the lessons he learned to his new position at Trinity. 

"In order to be successful, large multi-state systems really need to be able to do two things," Dr. Anderson said. "One is to be able to leverage their national scale, but as important is to be able to leverage their regional scale — and sometimes we fall into the trap that regional scale is only the hospitals that are part of our system. We [at Trinity] have been very intentional and disciplined about looking at other sites of care that we are building, whether it's medical office buildings, surgery centers, imaging centers, that can provide a better, lower cost and higher experience — a place that may be better for certain services outside of the four walls of the hospital."

Trinity Health has, indeed, been successfully leveraging its scale this year. For the fiscal first quarter (the three months ended Sept. 30), the system reported a 12.4% year over year increase in operating revenue to $5.6 billion. Three recent acquisitions — Des Moines, Iowa-based MercyOne on Sept. 1, 2022, Grand Haven, Mich.-based North Ottawa Community Health System on Oct. 1, 2022, and Davenport, Iowa-based Genesis Health System on March 1, 2023 — drove that growth, collectively contributing $453 million to the revenue increase. 

As such, Trinity is "always opportunistic in looking at acquisitions," Dr. Anderson said. But it's not just about dropping pins on the map; the system must find ways to stand out in the markets it serves, he said. 

"When you look at Trinity's footprint, there are several markets where we don't have the regional scale to compete head-to-head in a traditional fee-for-service hospital system," Dr. Anderson said. "So what we have been very disciplined and intentional about is, how do we create a differentiated approach, the ability to find clinical programs and win on member and patient preference? How can we really create a consumer experience that is enhanced so that our patients and those that we serve choose us over competitors?"

This notion of consumerism is one of two top priorities driving Trinity Health's strategy this year, Dr. Anderson said. The system invested heavily in the Epic-powered platform TogetherCare so that by 2028, it will be the healthcare provider with the largest instance of Epic across every site of care. The goal: streamline the tedious information-sharing process so patients are not repeatedly filling out the same medical forms. The envisioned outcome: patients will be more likely to choose Trinity Health. 

"Healthcare is interesting because as an industry overall, we've done a really good job with clinical workflows, with operational workflows, with business workflows," he said. "Where we have fallen short as an industry is developing systems of care around consumer workflows, and understanding how we can provide an easier system to navigate. A lot of the investments that we have made are really around creating a better system of care that makes it easier to navigate, a better place to practice medicine and a better place for all of our colleagues to work."

Those colleagues are top priority number two, Dr. Anderson said. The system aims to clarify their employees' goals, equip them with resources and training to be successful and remove barriers to caring for patients and families. For example, Trinity rolled out a new care model this year, partnering a virtual nurse with an on-site RN and either a licensed vocational nurse, licensed practical nurse, nursing assistant or certified nursing assistant. The three-pronged teams share the workload to meet patients' needs more effectively. 

The average age of these virtual nurses is 58, Dr. Anderson said; the program allows the senior, tenured nurses who still have the ability to give high quality care and mentorship to contribute without the physical taxation of an on-site job. Amid the nursing shortage, it's been "excellent," per Dr. Anderson.

Becoming the employer and provider of choice is the ultimate goal for Trinity Health heading into a 2024 riddled with unknowns, Dr. Anderson said. 

"If we can get the notion of choice, preference, member intimacy correct, and provide a great place and a great environment where our colleagues can thrive, that right there is a winning combination," Dr. Anderson said, "regardless of what happens in the external environment."

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars