Sweeping changes in health care delivery are coming in all directions. No hospital can stand still in this environment. Everyone has to have a plan that is relevant to its community and its situation — a plan that moves them toward a value-oriented world that demands more accountability for the quality and cost of care.
In this evolving health care world, costs and quality are each integral parts of a hospital's recipe for success. Providing value in everything you do is the key to remaining competitive in the marketplace, and the best and only way to drive sustained improvements in performance and satisfaction. The experience in numerous other industries tells us that this transformation is possible. It also tells us that there can be stunning progress for all stakeholders when this right kind of competition is unleashed.
When providers win by delivering superior care more efficiently, patients, employers and health plans also win. When health plans help patients and referring physicians to make better choices, assist in coordination and reward excellent care, providers benefit. And competing on value goes beyond winning in a narrow sense. When hospital executives and their teams compete to achieve the best medical outcomes for patients, they pursue the aims that led them to their profession in the first place.
The good news is how hospitals and health systems across the country are demonstrating their commitment to value-based care — whether in their work to make care more equitable and to build healthier communities as a collaborative endeavor, or in their response to the public's desire for transparency by defining, ensuring and reporting quality and financial information.
These hospitals and health systems are harnessing the power of evidence-based care to achieve positive patient outcomes and are mastering the art of applying those care processes consistently. In the process, they are revolutionizing the culture within their organizations, breaking down previously sacrosanct silos and bringing all kinds of caregivers together in a coordinated effort to improve performance.
As reimbursement shifts away from fee-for-service and toward value-based payments, hospitals are deliberately and effectively moving from volume to value and toward a transformed delivery system. Because these hospitals recognize they must do better with less, they are investing in long-term strategies to simultaneously reduce costs and increase quality by speeding adoption of information technology and better managing the care of patients with chronic conditions.
The hospitals that successfully navigate this changing health care landscape will make high-quality care less costly and reward innovations that increase value. They will focus on value for patients — not just on lowering costs — and on competition that is based on results and centered on medical conditions over the full cycle of care.
It's a tall order, but necessary to fill, if we are to reinvent health care and lay the groundwork for a true system of care that will ensure a healthier America for generations to come.
Rich Umbdenstock is president and CEO of the American Hospital Association in Washington, D.C.