Today’s healthcare system demands working together in a way that has never been done before. Rather than an “every organization for itself” or a takeover attitude, non-profit, government, business, health systems and academia are working together to drive increased efficiencies and value while benefitting patient care and directly profiting business in parallel. They are already producing encouraging results throughout the country with successes that are helping to reduce admissions, readmissions and emergency room visits, as well as costs of care. However, in many ways these new forms of collaboration are deeply countercultural. They run up against institutional fragmentation and a persistent focus on the short term. But ultimately, cross-sector partnerships must go beyond traditional collaboration to be scalable, advance true impact and influence systems change.
A coordinated strategy among key players in unique partnerships is the only way for the healthcare system as a whole to address the chronic disease crisis that America faces. Since 2012, 117 million Americans suffered from one or more chronic health conditions. One in four Americans had two or more chronic health conditions. As the American population rapidly ages, healthcare players need to break down barriers that currently inhibit seamless post-acute senior care every day. Senior housing, home health agencies and larger home healthcare providers, like CareCentrix, must work with hospitals and each other in a way that has never been done before. This is the only way for the entire healthcare system to win. Keeping patients in low cost settings, like the home, is so much more necessary for treating chronic diseases.
Even if one health provider coordinates with other players so the entire system doesn’t hit a wall, looking ahead and tactically evaluating what works and what doesn’t will make a true difference. Mergers and acquisitions in healthcare grew by 22 percent in 2015 and happen quite often. Some of these mergers and acquisitions have been very successful, while others have not resulted in the intended effects. Partnership does not only mean the joining of two or more healthcare players simply for benefitting the financial bottom line. While reducing costs is critical in healthcare, delivering quality care is at the top of everyone’s agenda. Thus, partnerships that enable communication between different players and bring together necessary skill sets will truly engage the increasingly empowered patient. By leveraging everyone’s strengths and perspectives, everyone can win. In the past, patients were oblivious or indifferent to the costs of care. Today, these same patients are charged with increased financial responsibility and given ample digital tools to take an active role in their own care plans. This is redefining relationships and how the individual healthcare providers are interacting with others.
The most important relationship that has been altered is the doctor-patient relationship. Physicians must engage in shared decision making with patients in order to foster a collaborative relationship. Doctors can help recommend solutions that will keep their patients in their homes where they want to heal and age. Doctors can also contextualize recommendations, such as, why a particular mobile application will benefit a patient at home, if it becomes part of the daily routine to use it.
Together, crossing the value and cost saving finish line through strategic, meaningful partnerships with home health providers and other post-acute players will be essential for the entire healthcare ecosystem.