Bill FeraAs they embark on a brand new year and aim to hold to our resolutions, healthcare organizations should remain focused on promoting a culture of collaboration to ensure they are aligned with the patient-centric shift that is currently taking place. Ernst & Young LLP’s 2012 healthcare provider industry reporta points to several key areas within health care where the collaborative trend is quite evident.

The report’s analysis of collaboration in health care is founded on the concept of the “Triple Aim,” comprising the provider-oriented goals of better care for individuals, better health for populations, and lower per capita cost for health care overall. Providers are still very much in the process of achieving these goals, but there are some noteworthy examples of collaboration that have shown true progress on this front:

  • The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), with its emphasis on multi-stakeholder care delivery and related incentives, is at the heart of many current collaborative efforts. The advancement of accountable care organizations is perhaps the most visible example of these efforts.
  • The just-beginning inundation of health IT is presenting providers with an opportunity to gain a competitive edge by pooling and sharing data across the care continuum. Be it through electronic health records, health insurance exchanges, or payment- and cost-management, providers are uniquely positioned to benefit from the free exchange of data thanks to the open source nature of advancements in health IT.
  • Now more than ever, providers are expected to work efficiently with payers as health care shifts from a business-to-business to a business-to-consumer model. Considering the increasingly high standards expected of payment methodologies, providers and payers are codeveloping service offerings that proactively engage patients and demonstrate a commitment to enhanced outcomes-based and cost-effective care.
  • In a departure from the siloed approach most organizations have taken in the past, providers are expanding their reach outside of hospital walls to help promote healthier communities. Wellness programs are a relatively new and fast growing example, as providers are finding strong partnerships in community health centers and schools to employ initiatives aimed at curtailing childhood obesity and helping educate potential at-risk patients.

Through these evolving approaches and others, many providers are witnessing the benefits that true collaboration could have in ensuring success in tomorrow’s value-based healthcare system. There will be no “one size fits all” solution for providers when it comes to collaboration, so expect further bold experiments in 2013 and beyond.

a. Ernst & Young LLP, New Horizons: Collaboration, Health Care Provider Industry Report 2012.

Bill is a principal, health care advisory services, Ernst & Young LLP.

The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ernst & Young LLP. Ernst & Young LLP does not provide medical services or advice.

Publication Date: Friday, January 11, 2013