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Process Improvements Vital to Cost Containment

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, June 11, 2012

Dean Swindle
CFO, executive vice president for business services,
Catholic Health Initiatives,
Englewood, Colo.


On the challenge ahead: To get effective sustainable transformational cost movement, you are going to have to engage your clinical folks and have a partnership that redefines how you deliver care and make it a process improvement. At the same time you are trying to maintain what level you have of patient experience, and take that into consideration as you re-define processes. It will be the most difficult thing that any of us have done in this industry.

On cutting versus changing: You try not to use the term cost cutting because it alienates three fourths of the workforce. But at the same time it doesn't give credit for what needs to be done because you do need to change processes. Even broader, you are going to see some saying we need to change how the operating model is set up.

On surviving the transition: Everyone knows we have already done a lot, but it's not enough and the traditional way of looking at it is not going to be enough. Having transformational change in how we do our work every day across the board is a daunting task. A lot of us are still trying to survive in the current environment of fee-for-service as we migrate to who knows where we are going even as we are being held accountable for value and quality.

On the need for efficiency: Cost efficiency and effectiveness now becomes much more of an integrated part of a broader theme. We have to keep finding efficiencies. Because of the uncertainty of volumes and revenue that we have experienced in the past couple of years, and which will continue, cost will become more of a discussion point because it is something people feel you can control more than the uncertainty around revenue.


This article appears in the May 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

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John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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