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5 Healthcare Business Stories Nurse Leaders Should Read

By Jennifer Thew RN  
   December 27, 2019

To be effective in today's healthcare industry, nurse leaders' knowledge must extend beyond traditional nursing issues.

The amount of information that nurse executives must synthesize to be effective leaders can be overwhelming. They must not only have a handle on traditional nursing issues like staffing, recruitment and retention, and nursing practice issues, they also must be keenly aware of big-picture organizational goals and healthcare industry trends.

To help an organization achieve its strategic goals, nurse leaders must be well-versed in the overall business of healthcare. Here are five stories from HealthLeaders editors on business topics that will help nurse leaders keep abreast of need-to-know industry developments.

1. 'Big Three' Diagnostic Errors Account for Nearly 75% of All Serious Harm

Twenty years ago, the landmark report To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System was released, thrusting the need to improve patient safety into the spotlight. Unfortunately, since its publication, estimates of deaths from medical errors have increased.

A recent study in the journal, Diagnosis, reports that diagnostic errors contribute to significant cases of preventable harm. Misdiagnoses of three conditions—cardiovascular events, cancers, and infections—make up 74% of all serious harms from diagnostic errors and were linked to death or permanent disability.  

"Our findings suggest that the most serious harms can be attributed to a surprisingly small number of conditions. It still won’t be an easy or quick fix, but that gives us both a place to start and real hope that the problem is fixable," says study lead author David Newman-Toker, MD, director of the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute Center for Diagnostic Excellence, in remarks accompanying the report.

2. Delivering Real-Time Analysis Is Top Tactical Challenge in Analytics, Healthcare Execs Say

The top three challenges for healthcare executives in performing analytics over the next three years is timely analysis, insufficient skills, and lack of funding, finds a recent HealthLeaders Intelligence Report: Investing for the Future: Analytics, AI, and ROI.

Additionally, 62% of healthcare leaders say clinical best practices are the most promising area of analytics development. Real-time delivery of actionable information (54%) and population health data (44%) complete the list of the top three most promising areas.

"The other part to this challenge is the delivery of the actual insight," says Todd Stewart, MD, vice president of clinical integrated solutions and clinical informatics at Mercy Technology Services, the IT division of St. Louis–based Mercy. "If somebody has to go outside of their typical workflow to get it, there is potential for it to be overlooked. As an example, you could have a really great sepsis algorithm that is predicting things perfectly, but if you deliver it out of context or out of the workflow, it's going to be tough to get the impact you need."

3. 5 Tech Tools That Could Change the Way Your Hospital Delivers Care

Want to improve HCAHPS scores, reduce falls, or improve disease management? There could be an app for that.

HealthLeaders highlights five healthcare technologies that have potential to appeal to patient-consumers, while simultaneously creating value for healthcare organizations. The featured devices and apps have been found to improve many of the outcomes organizations are striving to achieve.

4. Hospital Splits This Payroll Expense 50/50 With Local Payer to Curb ER Overuse

At Allina Health's New Ulm Medical Center in New Ulm, Minnesota, patients who visit the emergency department at least three times within four months are added to a high-utilization list.

A social worker follows up with each patient directly to try to solve underlying problems that may be contributing to frequent ED use, such as mental health needs or housing instability.

This is not an unusual intervention. Many hospitals and health systems have similar programs, but when it came to the cost of employing a full-time ED social worker, New Ulm Medical Center did something different. The hospital partnered with local insurer South Country Health Alliance to split the personnel expense 50/50, beginning in 2012.

That partnership has paid off. By the end of the third year, the cohort's overall ED utilization was cut in half, and its inpatient admissions fell 89%.

"I don't think the driver was necessarily just cost but appropriate care at the right place, at the right time, with the right kind of provider," says South Country Health Alliance Chief Medical Officer Brad Johnson, MD.

5. After the Breakup: How to Manage When Your Potential M&A Partner Walks Away

When organizations talk of mergers and acquisitions, there's hope there will be a match made in heaven. But sometimes it turns into a love 'em and leave 'em situation.  

When one potential partner decides the relationship is not to be, the other party needs to move forward. David Jarrard, CEO of healthcare strategic communications consultancy Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock Inc., offers some tips on how leaders can keep strategic communications on point when a potential partnership falls through.

For example, he says, if a partnership breaks apart, leaders should share tangible next steps that will be taken in moving forward and explain why the deal failed with their stakeholders.   

Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders.


Nurse leaders must be well-versed in healthcare business issues to achieve organizational goals and outcomes.

Innovative tech tools can improve organizational goals.

Analytics has potential but presents challenges for healthcare executives.

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