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

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, January 11, 2013

That doesn't mean there aren't future issues to iron out in such a partnership. Outcomes need work, Weiss says, but they're attacking processes first.  "This is not rocket science."

To learn how to do this right, Weiss says, the open-ended collaboration with Blue Cross Blue Shield allows for limited downside risk for not meeting its targets, he says, which are multiple.

"One good thing about this relationship is that with limited downside risk, it's like learning day at the casino," he says. "We're playing cards, but in a sense, we're not playing for real money. Later, it's the real deal. Right now, we don't have a downside risk."

Except that keeping people out of the hospital has its own serious costs.

With other payers, a hospital visit can be lucrative, as it can be with Medicare, as long as its limited quality targets, such as preventing 30-day readmissions for the same condition, are met. As the relationship develops with Florida Blue Cross Blue Shield and other payers—"This is not a monogamous relationship. We are going to get better at this," Weiss says—he hopes that payers will recognize a need to share their profit margin with providers.

"We have to get Florida Blue and others to understand if we can keep everyone healthy, they need to share with us their profit margin," Weiss says.

"If we can get to that point we have it made. We'll be like the Maytag repair guy, which gets them away from paying us for sickness. That's the tragedy of the current system. We can't afford to continue to do what we've done."


Philip Betbeze is senior leadership editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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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.