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Walking Healthcare Industry Disruption's Fine Line

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, June 14, 2013

Mag Cover


Seeking the Strategic Sweet Spot

Hospital and health system leaders are moving carefully toward being accountable for the health not only of individual patients, but of populations. How nimbly they move, and how astutely they make strategic decisions will land them in either the winners' column—or the losers'.

Healthcare is being disrupted from all angles. And disruption, in the business sense, means there will be winners and losers. Standing still will put you squarely in the latter category. But even dealing with disruption aggressively could land you there, and more quickly, if you make the wrong strategic decisions.

Uncertainty, and yes, even fear is what I hear when hospital and health system CEOs describe the quandary. They've got one foot in the boat and one foot on the dock as they move toward being accountable for the health not only of individual patients, but of populations.  

Usually, they're saying that as they're describing the 180-degree turn they're having to make from fee-for-service to value-based care. But the metaphor could just as easily stand in for discerning proper long-term strategy decisions.  

This month's HealthLeaders magazine cover story deals with three health systems that are seeking that strategic sweet spot. It's difficult to do when you're considering years-long investments in technology or acquisition and integration of pieces of the healthcare system that hospitals and health systems have never had before.  

Whether you decide to own or contract with post-acute providers or physician practices, their operational and financial performance is inextricably linked with your own, for better or worse. After doing this story, I'm convinced that no one knows whether they have the right answers. But I do know that eventually, someone will have them. The huge variety of potential linkages to achieving population health accountability is being tested right now.

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