An Evolutionary Tip for Healthcare Systems: Adapt or Die

Philip Betbeze, August 22, 2014

The future belongs to the nimble, the innovative and, perhaps most important, the efficient, says the CEO of the Providence-Swedish Health Alliance.

Change in healthcare may come glacially, but when it does come, the principles of biology, evolution, and natural selection offer a good analogy for what will happen in healthcare: only those who take chances will survive, one CEO says.


Joe Gifford, MD

As leader of the ACO formed by Providence Health & Services - Washington and Swedish Health System, Joe Gifford, MD, is on the forefront of an as-yet uncertain era for health systems, payers, and physicians. All three groups are under the gun to increase value by decreasing waste and overutilization and to right-size their infrastructure and cost structure.

An ACO created at least partially to work directly with employers, such as initial participant Boeing, the Alliance provides an ACO structure to two health systems that combined in 2012. Swedish became a division of Providence Health & Services, but they maintained their distinct identities, as Swedish is predominant in the greater Seattle area, while Providence is much larger regionally.

"This is no longer about creating high-margin institutional services, it's about serving populations efficiently for greater value," says Gifford. "That's a challenge for everyone's financials."

Surviving the fallout from such a transformation does involve risk, but it doesn't mean being rash. It means not being afraid to seek out new relationships and new partnerships to help solve the problem of high costs and poor outcomes locally.

Philip Betbeze

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders Media.


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