The 18th Annual Not-for-Profit Health Care Investor Conference is approaching quickly. Held in New York on May 24–25, the conference continues to bring together leading health care providers from across the country, offering a forum for discussion on the ever-changing health care landscape.
This year’s theme of “Managing Change” is the culmination of the prior three years’ themes: “Building Systems of Care for Greater Value,” “Preparing for Population Health and Consumerism” and “Partnering and Collaborating to Drive Value and Innovation.”
Over the past several years, health systems have worked to build the infrastructure, management teams and resources to support the changes facing our field. One of the greatest challenges continues to be the ability to manage transformation within their organizations, and effectively demonstrating that ability to other capital market participants. While many systems have embraced the move toward population health and are focused on consumerism, the uncertainty surrounding the continued evolution of these skill sets remains high, and implementation strategies remain varied and evolving among leading health systems.
Many of the health system executives I spoke with over the past year agreed that changes in how and where care is delivered were necessary for the betterment of the population. Their ability to manage through this transition, while creating an improved environment for patient care and remaining financially healthy is a considerable challenge.
In addition, health systems are focused on dealing with the uncertainty of reimbursement adding complexity to aligning incentives, the ability to take on and manage the risk of a population, the cost and benefit of information technology platforms, and the potential repeal of parts of the Affordable Care Act. The balance between investing in a platform for the future while continuing to remain operationally strong in the current environment and payment system requires systems to be nimble and willing to adjust their strategy accordingly.
One executive I spoke with said that “managing change is never going to be easy, but the one thing we know for certain is that we have to deliver care in a different way than we have in the past and it starts with efficiency and quality.” While change often brings discomfort and challenges, it also brings opportunity, which health systems are focused on capturing.
Another key to success mentioned is “The ability to block out all the noise, focus on what you can control, and do what is right for your patients.” Managing this transition is not easy on health systems, but effectively communicating their strategies to municipal bond buyers is a great start to ensure continued capital access despite the challenges ahead.
Competency to communicate strategy, rationale, and expected results is instrumental to gaining support from investors. Investors provided clear insight into their expectations of how health systems should manage their relationships during periods of change.
First and foremost, owners of municipal bonds are looking for transparency. The ability of a management team to state the specific initiatives the health system is undertaking, to be transparent about successes as well as failures, and to not be afraid to detail what the management team believes will be the necessary next steps to enable future success will be critical to securing the trust of investors going forward. Future success will be predicated upon strong leadership in order to navigate through all of the uncertainty and implement strategies to address the multiple challenges facing the field.
Looking forward to the conference, I continue to be amazed at the determination of field leaders to do what is in the best interest of patients and the communities they serve. No other type of organization is asked to provide lifesaving services while maintaining fiscal responsibility in an environment with considerable uncertainty in the reimbursement system. The conference provides a platform for sharing of ideas and best practices, and the amount of collaboration between attendees to help achieve common goals is remarkable. As we continue to work in this arena, we can embrace the transformation occurring to improve our lives. It’s an honor to be a part of the journey.