Why Memorial Hermann decided to become a market disruptor

Healthcare executives once spent time crafting five- and 10-year strategic plans for system growth. Then the pandemic hit and planning horizons shortened.

"Now we look at one year and sometimes we're lucky to get through a one-year strategy," said Kyle Price, senior vice president of service lines and Houston-based Memorial Hermann. He spoke on a panel at the Becker's CEO+CFO Roundtable about health system growth and where the industry is headed. Keeping the pace of innovation during the pandemic is one of his key priorities for the next few years.

Health systems were forced to change quickly when the pandemic hit, with many standing up telehealth and virtual care platforms quickly. Organizations also became innovative in data gathering and reporting, supply chain management and resource utilization. Health systems pivoted daily based on what their community needed most in any given moment.

"We removed red tape and we removed barriers. We became nimble and we all know healthcare is like the Titanic on a creek. You can't turn it around fast enough and you can't pivot," he said. "We have started to go backwards again now that we're in our new normal. We start to add red tape and barriers again. We lose the ability to be nimble and we stop being quick. That keeps me up at night because we're starting to see that across the country. That's tradition for us and I believe that's something we have to fight against."

To combat inertia and look ahead, Mr. Price said Memorial Hermann has decided to become a market disruptor instead of being disrupted.

"[The healthcare system] is super complex," he said. "For me, thinking through that in the next few years and how to make it easier, bring [care] closer to the consumer, and figuring out how I can disrupt my market. The reason disruptors like Amazon and CVS come into the market is they see how cumbersome healthcare is and think they can go directly to the consumer with a better product than you can and take part of the market away because the health system isn't fast enough or nimble enough."

Mr. Price is focused on physician alignment strategy and building a high performing network to stay competitive.

"Everything begins and ends in healthcare with providers, so having the right providers and the right quality aligned with you will be a key to being a disruptor in any market," he said. "Everyone talks about shifting to value in a fee-for-service world. It can be scary."

Fee for service is dominant in the Houston market, where payers and healthcare systems are fragmented. Mr. Price said there isn't much conversation about value. But he is working with his team to build a foundation of providers, beginning with primary care, to drive high quality care while lowering costs.

"I believe in the Houston market that the first to value wins the market because everyone else is catching up, and there are only so many physicians to go around," he said. "You have to be first to market and have that strategy."

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