Healthcare leaders recognize that expansion of ambulatory and outpatient care networks can improve patient access, relationships, and revenue.
This article first appeared in the December 2015 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.
The number of factors driving ambulatory and outpatient care expansion seems to grow larger every day. Ironically, activities supporting both fee-for-service and value-based care models, normally moving in somewhat different directions, appear to coexist in a beneficial way in ambulatory and outpatient care.
According to the 2015 HealthLeaders Media Ambulatory and Outpatient Care Survey, two of the top three factors driving ambulatory and outpatient care strategy—expanding market share (50%) and increasing revenue (48%)—are mainstays of a fee-for-service model. On the other hand, more respondents cite improving quality and outcomes (52%) as a top driver, and tied for fourth position are population health management (43%) and responding to consumer-driven trends (43%), factors reflective of a value-based care model.
The reasons behind ambulatory and outpatient care expansion may originate from different strategic points of view, but the tactics and objectives have much in common.
"Whether you're in population health or whether you're in fee-for-service, it makes sense to try to create a broader network that can reach more people and have your organization achieve significant outcomes in less capital-intensive ways than by just building hospitals, which are among the most risked investment strategies because of the opportunity cost, the amount of capital that goes into them," says Scott Nordlund, executive vice president for growth, strategy, and innovation at Trinity Health, a Livonia, Michigan–based nonprofit with facilities in 21 states and 2014 total revenue of $13.5 billion. "Ambulatory/outpatient networks are great vehicles for reaching out to consumers."