Optimizing service line delivery leads to enhanced care coordination and quality, along with greater patient experience. The service line model helps hospitals and health systems improve efficiency, control costs, and recruit and retain skilled clinical staff. Today's service line leaders, however, are experiencing increased challenges as their scope of responsibility grows, extending across multiple hospitals and outside the walls of acute care settings. For them, cost reduction opportunities are becoming more complex and demand strong physician alignment. They also face greater financial risks as the hospital field shifts towards value-based reimbursement.

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Knowing these factors, VHA is pleased to introduce its complimentary educational program, Strategies to Unleash the Potential in Your Service Lines, a monthly webinar series that delivers real-time guidance from industry experts. Beginning May 7, the free hour-long programs will share solutions for success in today's health care environment.

Until then, the following is a Top 10 list of challenges facing service line leaders, along with strategies to help overcome them:

10. Creating a clinically integrated care model that coordinates care, creates accountability and empowers leaders across multiple hospitals and non-acute settings even when there is not a direct reporting structure to the service line leader. Service line leaders must create a shared vision and align incentives among all stakeholders, across care settings.

9. Partnering with physician leaders to effectively manage strategic planning and care delivery throughout the continuum of care. Involve physicians in the planning process early to secure buy-in.

8. Aligning independent and employed physician incentives across the system. Align incentives around quality, cost and efficiency.

7. Optimizing care across multiple hospitals. Identify respected physician leaders to champion improvement initiatives that target variations in care. Remember to factor in each organization's unique culture, degree of physician alignment, data platforms, and competing and duplication of services.

6. Securing a data platform (the one source of trusted information) to provide meaningful clinical, operational and financial comparisons to help identify leading practices and variances. Develop a platform that serves all physicians across each hospital.

5. Decreasing cost per case by effectively managing supply price and utilization. Participate in a value analysis process that includes physicians and makes decisions based on evidence. Contract at the system level, integrating clinical and supply analytics to gain the critical insights required to identify new opportunities.

4. Managing resources effectively as acute case volumes continue to decrease due to shifts to outpatient settings. Always seek to provide care in the most appropriate, cost-effective setting.

3. Growing a health system through an aggregation strategy that is forcing decisions about the duplication of services and what services will be provided at what location. Identify areas of duplication and assess their impact on the community if services are consolidated. Assess the impact on established referral patterns and patient references with consolidation.

2. Extending the service line across the entire continuum of care. Service lines must align with post-acute care providers to enhance care coordination, manage resources and reduce financial risk from readmissions.

1. Balancing the challenges of delivering high quality, low-cost care today while implementing strategies that minimize the financial risks of tomorrow. Service line leaders should play a significant role in population health management to ensure care is delivered in the most appropriate setting.

Optimizing service line performance is a powerful step toward success in a value-based, coordinated care environment. VHA is your partner in this transformation. For more valuable insight, take advantage of VHA's free webinar series, Unleash the Potential in Your Services Lines., and register today.