In this Business Profile, Gordon Mountford, executive vice president, Huron Healthcare, discusses business imperatives for undertaking transformative change.

Gordon Mountford, executive vice president, Huron Healthcare talks about organizational preparation for transformative change.Tell us a little bit about your organization.

Huron Healthcare is a consulting firm that provides performance improvement and clinical transformation solutions for hospitals, health systems, academic medical centers, and physician organizations. By leveraging an organization's strengths and addressing local market dynamics, our solutions improve quality, increase revenue, reduce expense, and drive physician, employee, and patient satisfaction across the enterprise.  

Last February, we acquired Studer Group, a professional services firm that coaches healthcare organizations on how to achieve and sustain cultural transformation for exceptional clinical and financial outcomes. This acquisition combines Huron Healthcare's performance improvement capabilities with Studer Group's Evidence-Based LeadershipSM framework. We are excited about what this marriage will mean for clients.  

What are some of the biggest strategic imperatives that organizations are struggling with in health care today?

First and foremost, healthcare leaders need to find new ways to improve quality of care while reducing cost. This shift toward value is being seen throughout the industry.

Also important is thriving in a fee-for-service environment while preparing for population health. For healthcare organizations to support these value- and population-focused objectives, we have identified that they will need to improve their financial performance between 20 to 40 percent over the next three to five years.

Every market is different, but many organizations are experiencing significant reimbursement compression that is focused on government payers (versus non-government payers). At the same time, many hospitals are seeing continued suppression on volumes, as care shifts toward less intensive settings. These financial pressures can make it considerably more difficult to pursue large-scale quality and cost-management initiatives.

As for population health readiness, organizations will need to focus on building a robust data analytics infrastructure and appropriately time transitions. When value-based revenue in a given market reaches around 15 percent, the transition can accelerate. At that point, it will be important to be "information rich" rather than "data rich," knowing how to leverage clinical and financial data to appropriately design care models for patient populations under risk-based arrangements.

And finally, there is the rise of consumerism. To excel in this new environment, hospitals and health systems need to be able to meet the needs of empowered consumers. Organizations will have to provide greater transparency around pricing and quality information, so patients can make better educated decisions about elective care. The ability to deliver operational excellence also will be key. On a positive note, this rise in consumerism has potential for positive effects all around. There is growing evidence that patients who are more engaged and active in their care decisions are less costly to serve and have better outcomes than peers.

How can Huron Healthcare address these overarching industry challenges?

Huron Healthcare TransformationWe are able to assist them in these efforts by providing solutions that address the four components required in our transformation strategy model:  

  • Clinical transformation
  • Revenue transition
  • Scale and integration
  • Operational excellence

Such wide-scale levels of change demand significant commitment from employees and physicians. As such, heightened levels of leadership will be needed to articulate an organization’s vision for transformation, instill passion, and create effective levels of accountability. Addressing cultural transformation within an organization will also be key, and that is where Huron and Studer solutions help our client’s efforts to improve their financial performance and quality of care objectives.  

What advice would you give to healthcare leaders as they assess different types of vendors to assist in the types of business change you're describing? 

Think outside the box. Health care is evolving in new ways every day. The industry we know today will look very different in five years. So my advice is to choose a partner that is nimble, flexible, and collaborative. You need a progressive partner to challenge your leadership and drive healthy change within the organization. You need a partner who can help you anticipate what’s coming, rather than focusing on the past.

Also, seek out those who are results-driven. We see many programs and projects in the field that are not well measured or do not deliver the anticipated benefits. The ideal partner should have a demonstrated track record of being able to drive success through rapid process change.

Finally, take a look at other industries. We can learn a lot from others who were forced to tackle transformative change, such as leaders in manufacturing or financial services, for example.  Recognizing the value from such experiences is one reason why Huron Healthcare brought in executives from The Home Depot, Turner Broadcasting System, and Coca-Cola to share insights at our annual CEO Forum. 

Any additional reading you would suggest?

Download Huron Healthcare's Leading the Journey: Cultivating Success in Healthcare: A CEO Forum Report. The report shares progressive practices in managing population health, balancing risk and reward, and consumerism. It also provides insights from some of the most respected thought leaders in health care as well as other transformative industries. Perhaps most useful, readers will find 10 questions to help guide hospital and health system transformation strategies.

Huron Healthcare

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Content for this Business Profile is supplied by Huron Healthcare. This published piece is provided for advertisement purposes. HFMA does not endorse the published material or warrant or guarantee its accuracy. The statements and opinions of those profiled are those of the individual and not those of HFMA. References to commercial manufacturers, vendors, products, or services that appear do not constitute endorsement by HFMA.

Publication Date: Friday, May 01, 2015