Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Strategy and Our Health Care System


As an HCPM, I can’t help but relate this week’s readings to the health care reforms currently up for debate by the Supreme Court. Overall, these reforms are strategic initiatives for our entire health care system.

I came across an interesting article in the New England Journal of Medicine that touches on the strategy for health care reform. The author, Dr. Michael Porter, points out that the overall goal of reform needs to focus on “increasing value for patients.”[1] Dr. Porter’s proposed focus mirrors a key topic in the “Reinventing Your Business Model,” reading: “It’s not possible to invent or reinvent a business model without first identifying a clear customer value proposition.”[2] The nation’s health care system is itself a business, with patients serving as customers of the system.

Our health care system is a unique creature for a multitude of reasons. Everyone serves as a customer or potential customer to the system. It is created of a unique mix of private and not-for-profit hospital and health systems. Payment is collected from individuals, private insurance companies, or government sponsored insurance programs. Or, payment may go uncollected, leaving hospitals to account for costs associated with unreimbursed medical care. The fact that all individuals are customers of the health care system raises the point that there needs to be some national strategy to address concerns in the system, even though each individual hospital and health care system have their own strategic initiatives to address.

Overall, in light of the current health care debate, how should individual hospitals and health care systems align their strategic goals with that of the nation, and how to they get there? This means drastic and expensive changes need to be made.  Is there any benefit in health systems remaining focused on their current strategic initiatives, while also addressing that of the nation?

[1] Porter, Michael E. (2009). A Strategy for Health Care Reform – Toward a Value-Based System. New
                England Journal of Medicine, 361. Retrieved from
                http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp0904131
[2] Johnson, Mark W., & Christensen, Clayton M. (2008). Reinventing Your Business Model. Harvard
                Business Review December 2008. Print.

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