Celebrating a Century of Healthcare and Embracing Change in Michigan

Author: Craig Hittle, Vice President, Lumeris

Since 1919, the Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) has been committed to improving the quality of healthcare for communities throughout Michigan. The changing healthcare landscape was top of mind for all healthcare executives in attendance, as the move to value-based care is driving transformation across the industry. As healthcare executive leaders celebrated accomplishments and debated what the next 100 years of healthcare service has in store for Michigan, several key themes emerged:

Change requires courage and embracing calculated risks

The status quo of healthcare is not sustainable. The industry is undergoing a massive shift that transforms the way care has been delivered and reimbursed. Health systems and providers are not only looking for ways to prepare their organizations for the future—they must find a sustainable strategy to keep their organizations viable.

One of the key messages at the conference centered around unconventional leadership and why it is central to what the next generation of healthcare leaders must embrace.[i] First, executives need to align their teams and organizations (from the top leaders to the front-line staff), ensuring that the strategy is always tied to the organization’s mission and vision of delivering better care. Second, building a culture of accountability is paramount as performance tracking and continuous improvement underlie how actionable and transparent data will support population health management. Finally, embracing innovation requires taking risk. Being bold, taking the path less taken, and placing calculated bets on new population health strategies are necessary to truly move the organization and the industry forward.

Healthcare technology is making strides…but there is more to do

The changes in healthcare cannot ignore the impact of technology. And while the industry has made great accomplishments in digitizing data and embracing electronic health records (EHRs), these first activities are only scratching the surface. From 2007 to 2019, the EHR adoption rate at health systems has increased from ~20% to 90+%, yet the “Productivity Paradox of IT” means that IT investments do not always deliver on promised improvements in quality and productivity right out of the gate.[ii] The healthcare industry still must figure out how to make healthcare data accessible, garner insights from the data, and push those insights into usable workflows. It is no understatement that aggregating, cleansing, and transforming data is a challenge, and providers typically lack the resources and expertise to manage this on their own.

Healthcare technology and analytics are critical for delivering value-based care. But getting the data is just one piece of the puzzle. Providing actionable information to the right people at the right time will ultimately enable better decision making and improved outcomes. It is the powerful combination of aligned clinical and business models enabled by powerful technology and insights that will create the value all industry stakeholders are seeking.

System integration is beginning to shift the power balance in Michigan

Systems are seeking scale, profitable growth, and effective strategies to deleverage themselves from the traditional power brokers in healthcare (i.e., national payers). Systems are doing this by pivoting from solely operating hospitals to building a fully integrated healthcare delivery network, accountable for the health of the populations they serve. but to do this successfully, they need a new business model and access to the healthcare dollar that has traditionally been consumed by health insurance companies.

Leading systems in Michigan are actively pursuing local health plan standup and/or Medicare Advantage strategies to align their business model and care delivery activities. Other local systems continue to look for ways to grow and optimize their health plans and direct-to-employer offerings to more fully integrate and leverage their integrated delivery system capabilities.

The traditional payer model is officially on notice…if you’re not willing to be collaborative with your system partners and providers, someone else will.

Ultimately, healthcare has always been, and will continue to be, ALL about people

At the heart of the MHA annual meeting is the people. To start, members focus on strengthening relationships and building new ones with colleagues and peers from all across the healthcare space, focusing on everything from public health to public policy.

Several leaders received awards for their impactful contributions to improving health in Michigan. But most importantly, everyone is focused on how to better serve the community—including supporting their own healthcare workforce as well as the patients who need care.

The next 100 years of healthcare

Healthcare executives are human, and the strategic decisions they must make today will ultimately shape their tomorrow. Operating partners can support healthcare organizations with the necessary capabilities, resources, and solutions required to deliver high quality, cost effective care.

If the conversations and commitment at MHA are any indication, it’s that healthcare leaders in Michigan will keep advancing the health of their communities, regardless of the challenges that lie ahead.

[i] Unconventional Leadership. 2019. Presented at the Michigan Health & Hospital Association Annual Membership Meeting, Mackinac Island, Michigan.

[ii] Healthcare’s Digital Revolution: (Finally) A Time for Optimism. 2019. Presented at the Michigan Health & Hospital Association Annual Membership Meeting, Mackinac Island, Michigan.


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