Sep 8 2017 | Thought Leadership | By

Thinking about joining a provider collaborative? Not so fast…

By Mitu Ramgopal, Business Development

As health systems define their future state vision and how they will achieve the transition to value-based care, one approach that has emerged is to join a provider collaborative. Health systems are coming together to start sharing best practices and work toward common goals. However, it is critical to determine how the collaborative will help your own organization’s transformation.

What is a provider collaborative?

At its simplest, a provider collaborative is group of independent health care entities focused on a common goal or goals. While the objectives and structures of each collaborative vary, collaboratives focused on value-based care transformation are gaining traction.

Things to consider

Before joining a collaborative, be sure to evaluate these 6 fundamental elements:

  1. Don’t make it a “me too” play: Establish your organization’s objectives first. Then define how you want to get there. A strategy for one system may not work for your own. Creating an effective plan will require an assessment of existing capabilities and a detailed plan for how to bridge any gaps. An experienced operating partner can help you map a customized journey and execute on your vision.
  2. Evaluate the collaborative’s goals: How do you define value-based care and population health? How does the collaborative define these terms? Are you aligned? A lack of clarity on the collaborative’s goals up front will impact how the members define goals and activities.
  3. Assess the collaborative’s place on the population health spectrum: Based on your readiness and capabilities, think about what you need to achieve your goals. Is the collaborative equipped to support you? If the collaborative is far along the spectrum while your organization is in its infancy, there may be learnings to be gained—if you are prepared. By contrast, if the rest of the members are trailing in their strategy execution while you have made progress, what do you stand to gain?
  4. Evaluate the members’ objectives—or ulterior motives: Collaboratives provide a great forum for sharing best practices and learning. But be wary of committing your energy and resources at the risk of helping competitors. Might you be better off investing in your own organization’s efforts and shoring up your own market position?
  5. Leverage the strengths of the collaborative: Just as every collaborative is different, so too is every market. Be sure to understand local requirements and market dynamics that can influence the objectives of the collaborative. For example, if becoming a risk bearing entity is the ultimate goal, make sure that payers in your market are willing and open to participate in that strategy.
  6. Be honest about the investment: As with any business venture, what will it cost? Recognize the time, effort, and resources that will need to go into the collaborative, and determine if any financial outcomes are linked to the collaborative’s goals.

Value-based care is here and is the way of the future. Every organization must chart its own path, because each system is different with varying levels of resources, capabilities, and experience. While participating in a provider collaborative can support your organization’s progress toward value-based care transformation, ensure that the collaborative’s goals will align with your needs.


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