This article appears in the July 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.
Editor's note: This piece is an excerpt of a full case study that is part of an upcoming Rounds Event, A Comprehensive Women's Health Service Line: Lessons From North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System. To see the complete case study, which includes additional lessons and more information, visit www.healthleadersmedia.com/rounds/.
Hospitals have known for years that there are many advantages to marketing a comprehensive set of women's health services as a single unit. Not only do women represent a huge consumer segment with their own growing list of healthcare needs, but they are also the chief decision-makers for their family's care.
The current challenge for many health systems is to create the operational and clinical structures required to deliver a truly comprehensive set of women's health services. North Shore-LIJ Health System set out four years ago to create the Katz Institute for Women's Health to provide that comprehensive structure.
"It's a major priority for us as an organization because we have to get way, way beyond thinking of women's health as being limited to pregnancy and delivery," says Michael Dowling, president and CEO of North Shore-LIJ Health System. "It's not an easy thing to do because women's health, in many ways, is almost everything. You have to cut across a multitude of departments and service lines to be able to put a coherent face and a coherent structure around the women's health delivery system. If it only becomes a marketing issue, it sounds good, but you've got no substance behind it and at the end of the day it will fail."
Jennifer Mieres, MD, senior vice president of North Shore-LIJ Office of Community and Public Health, says clinical research has focused in recent years on defining women's health more broadly and identifying gender-based differences in care delivery. Those gaps in delivery made little sense given the profile of healthcare spending. "When you look at U.S. healthcare expenditures, women spend a lot more in terms of health," says Mieres. "Inpatient expenses are about $188 billion for women compared to $165 billion for men. Home health expenditures are $24 billion for women compared to $14 billion for men."