Live Webinar | Finance and Business Strategy
Save
Live Webinar | Billing and Collections
Save
Live Webinar | Patient Access
Save
Live Webinar | Finance and Business Strategy
Save
Live Webinar | Finance and Business Strategy
Save
Blog | Consumerism

Three Factors to Consider in Developing High-Performing Ambulatory Care Networks

Blog | Consumerism

Three Factors to Consider in Developing High-Performing Ambulatory Care Networks

Craig Holm and Meredith Inniger explain how and why to address optimal service mix and configuration, innovative delivery models and approaches, and consumer orientation.

Healthcare organizations are moving beyond opportunistic physician practice acquisition and medical office building development to a more proactive, systematic approach to care and service. To become an ambulatory care leader, an organization must address the following three key factors.  

Optimal Service Mix and Configuration

The organization should start by defining the ambulatory care service mix and configuration, or service portfolio, that summarizes the level and type of services to be provided at each of the network’s sites. Service portfolio offerings can include different tiers:

  • Comprehensive services. Prevention/wellness, primary, urgent, medical, surgical, rehabilitation; many services and specialties represented
  • Extensive services. A wide breadth and depth of diagnostic, treatment, and disease/care management services in marquee programs (e.g., brain injury)
  • Limited services. Low to moderate acuity and complex services available in a narrow service line, such as women’s health or services for diabetics; advanced technologies and techniques

Once the service portfolio is defined, the organization should create the network design. One network might include a variety of modest, geographically distributed, on- and-off-campus, and highly-visible entry points, including employer and retail-based sites. Another might combine big-box, multispecialty care at high-demand locations (e.g., geographic centers, housing for the elderly), with niche sites and appropriate co-located ancillary services. 

In planning individual sites as part of the network, the organization should assign a clear theme to each (e.g., men’s health, heart and lungs,  sports medicine). The theme helps maintain planning focus and vision on the unique needs of the population being served. 

Innovative Delivery Models and Approaches

New sites should enable innovative service approaches. Appointments can be structured with the needs of different types of patients in mind (e.g., low stimulation waiting areas for patients on the autism spectrum, physical clustering of services commonly used by the elderly during the course of a single visit). The use of physician-led multidisciplinary care teams will contribute to cost control and provide better management of chronic conditions.

A secure patient portal can allow computer-savvy patients to schedule appointments, obtain test results, and manage medications. Such a portal also can free staff to provide those same services to patients who do not have computer access, are not comfortable with computer-enabled communications, or have complex scheduling requests. 

Sites also can include telehealth services, especially for patients in underserved areas.

Consumer Orientation

Patients will be looking for service equivalent to a community-based primary care practice. Primary care visits should be available within one day, and specialty visits within one to two weeks. Hours should be tailored to the population that will be using each service site. For example, a site focused on working adults would make evening and possibly weekend appointments available. E-visit options may allow for more extensive availability of care. Staff should be formally trained in communications to ensure patients are fully informed about scheduling, visit follow-up requirements, medications, potential financial support, etc.. 

There should be free parking near the ground floor entrance and graphically facilitated wayfinding. Branding, color scheme, and approach to layout should be similar across sites promoting a consistent and positive brand experience that is further enhanced by the high-quality care provided.

Pricing for patients paying out of pocket should be below the market median, and strong efforts should be made to ensure inclusion in all payer networks. Competing on price and lowering consumer costs will allow health systems to compete with niche players, including urgent care centers and other retail clinics. 

The proliferation of value-based payment will continue to elevate the role of ambulatory care. A high-performing and competitive ambulatory care network is critical for the success of any health system in the future.    


Craig Holm, MBA, FACHE, is director at Veralon, Philadelphia.

Meredith Inniger, MHA, is manager at Veralon, Philadelphia. 

About the Authors

Craig Holm
Meredith Inniger

Sign up for a free guest account and get access to five free articles every month.

Advertisements

Related Articles | Consumerism

News | Telemedicine

Healthcare News of Note: 53% of U.S. adults say they prefer in-person healthcare to telehealth visits moving forward, survey says

Healthcare News of Note for healthcare finance professionals is a roundup of recent news articles: A majority of people prefer in-person healthcare to telehealth visits, patients have trouble grasping information during doctor visits, and Walmart taps an Ochsner exec to lead its healthcare expansion.

Sponsored Content | Consumerism

A New Era of Health Consumerism & Flexible Financing

The American healthcare system is experiencing significant shifts, moving past long-standingnorms. Health consumers increasingly want the new point-of-purchase financing options synonymous with today’s retail experience for their healthcare. Hospitals and health systems are turning to flexible financing solutions to meet today’s health consumers wherethey are,helping themplan forthe carethey needwithin theirbudgets.

News | Finance and Business Strategy

Annual Conference Day 2: Culture of healthcare slows needed change, says keynoter Robert Pearl, MD

Recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of healthcare’s culture is key to implementing needed industry changes, according to Robert Pearl, MD, former CEO of Permanente Medical Group.

News | Strategic Planning

Consumerism and the transition to value are among the trends drawing strategic reactions from healthcare providers, survey finds

A recent survey finds healthcare providers working to ensure their strategic planning incorporates key trends, spurring innovations in care delivery models.