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CEO: Hospitals Should be 'Like the Maytag Repair Man'

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, January 11, 2013

One is innovative collaboration with commercial payers. Weiss announced an interesting one right before the holidays, with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida. Weiss calls it the "first step towards a revolutionary accountable care organization."

It's a bold, but savvy bet, Weiss says.  The deal involves lots of sharing of data and a good deal of trust, but it's trust borne out of about a decade of work building from what Weiss calls "a competitive and professionally distant relationship" between the payer and the health system.

"We were bickering over price, not value, which made no sense," he says.

Seeking a better way, Weiss and the CEO of the health plan met in Jacksonville last year. This followed early discussions that suggested the insurer would like to steer more patients toward NCH because of its high quality scores and better than average record of value—especially compared to its competitors.

"We have room for improvement, but the whole industry is just so off in terms of waste, any little improvement we have looks better than you can imagine," Weiss says. "[Blue Cross Blue Shield] started the conversation, but we were poised to come to the same conclusion: What can we do to improve ourselves?"

Sharing of claims data was a good starting point, and the exercise revealed that even though NCH physicians were doing a pretty good job of eliminating waste, a combination of resources could make real-time interventions on physician decision-making based on evidence possible. That would eliminate so-called hidden waste.

"Just getting a seamless exchange of information among the clinicians is an early objective and knowing who's doing what among the physicians, almost in real time, makes a huge difference," Weiss says.

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3 comments on "CEO: Hospitals Should be 'Like the Maytag Repair Man'"


Jimmy St louis (1/25/2013 at 1:05 PM)
Great article! A more efficient system, although a longer path is certainly a preventative care model, accompanied by a model for ongoing patient health maintenance. We have written about this article in our blog at blogs.ahcps.com. In alignment with your article, it is our belief that an emphasis on creating a stronger knowledge base for our patients, accompanied by more control over their health is a key tool in lowering healthcare costs and creating a healthier "you". This adoption both by the consumer and provider will be key in the successful implementation.

David Massey (1/14/2013 at 5:52 PM)
While this deals with one of the root causes behind exploding healthcare costs there are other areas where improvement in skill sets can lead to significant and, in many cases, immediate reductions in cost of doing business. Specifically, people in charge of managing direct and indirect spend. I have discovered a significant lack of skill sets as evidenced through how supply chain/materials management personnel conduct their procurement; manage strategic acquisitions; lack of well-crafted policies and procedures; absence of formal personnel training programs and so on. Frankly, compared to other industries, such as Aerospace, healthcare supply chains and the quality of its materials management personnel is woeful.

Janice Miller (1/12/2013 at 1:55 PM)
I enjoyed this article and believe its way past time for this change to begin. I am a firm believer in LEAN programs and witnessed more waste of funds due to lack of knowledge and reliance on people who have held the same administrative positions for 30 years or more. Fresh insight from those who have been on the front line of the healthcare battle have been ignored. Here's an example, a hospital in Weirton, West Virginia takes nasal cultures from every patient admitted, every time they move to another room, and when the patient is released. This is just to check for MRSA. It stemmed from one patient threatening a lawsuit because they claimed they caught MRSA at the hospital. Those on the front line explain the waste and increased cost but it falls on deaf ears. I suggest hospitals ask personnel for suggestions and actually listen.