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Service Lines, Integration, and Population Health

Michael Zeis, for HealthLeaders Media, June 13, 2013
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This article appears in the June issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

As hospitals and health systems investigate delivering healthcare services along a continuum of care, they are reevaluating the strategic fit of their service lines, often with a view toward better integration of service lines with outpatient and postacute care.

For some, the examination causes a regrouping or consolidation of the service lines, and sometimes the service lines are coupled with practice areas that care for related chronic diseases. In addition, as organizations strive to make their service lines more efficient, more care is provided in outpatient settings. As a result, the service line revenue picture may be in a state of flux.

Broader objectives

Intelligence report results show that financial performance (69%) and clinical performance (63%) lead the list of items respondents include among the top reasons they invest in their service lines. Still, strength in service lines may depend on broadening one's perspective as the industry shifts to address population health.

For many, the shift to population health will mean providing services along the continuum of care, and our research shows that health systems—especially larger health systems (six sites or more)—place more emphasis on the continuum of care than hospitals or smaller systems.

Pam Nicholson, senior vice president for strategic integration for Colorado's Centura Health, which operates 14 hospitals in Colorado and Kansas, says that its integrated network of ambulatory, acute, and postacute care is guided by a value proposition that adds service and convenience to the classic financial and clinical drivers.

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