It’s Happening One Delivery System at a Time

In my initial blog on December 2, 2013 I told about the hospital delivery systems trying to change their delivery systems from focusing upon the quantity of services they provide to changing the delivery system to better coordinate care and provide higher quality of care at a lower cost. It is important to understand that these efforts are not mandated in the Patient Protection and Affordability Care Act-PPACA-the health reform law. The law did authorize several demonstration projects in Accountable Care plans but the Act didn’t directly address the cost-side of healthcare delivery.

Most of the leaders of the healthcare systems involved in these efforts are doing so because they believe that the current mode of healthcare delivery is unsustainable. There are many facts and statistics that note that the US cannot continue to spend the current 17% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on healthcare and be competitive with other countries.

Last week I attended a seminar put on by the Midwest Healthcare Executives Group and Associates—the Midwest affiliate of the American College of Healthcare Executives. At the session I had the pleasure of hearing two leaders of physician-led delivery systems in Michigan detail their journeys. Their stories verified that lasting changes in health care delivery are not made possible by government regulation or Congressional legislation but by physicians and hospital leaders working together over time to restructure their delivery processes by being focused on quality metrics.

Having been involved in healthcare delivery in both payer and provider organizations, I can say that the time and expense in technology and personnel to monitor and restructure the delivery process doesn’t happen quickly and comes at a great cost. Not all organization’s which start on this journey will succeed. Some organizations will fail.

Leaders in all healthcare delivery systems must be open and accountable to their organization’s and the communities that they serve. The changes that they seek to implement will be sustainable only if they can work effectively with consumers and patients. The commitment of patient’s to live healthier lives and to make improvements in their health are additional changes that cannot be mandated by a governmental entity. Having observed St. Rita’s Medical Center and Catholic Health Partners initiate the clinical integration process, the real test will be if patient’s can be engaged.