Ascension, the largest Catholic health system in the US, has made definitive plans to completely restructure the way it operates. Due to rising costs and diminishing revenue, Ascension is making moves to recoup some of its losses by undergoing an overhaul. Ascension will focus on outpatient care and telemedicine and transition from a hospital adapted system.
To bring it down, 20 percent of Ascension’s healthcare operating costs come from Michigan health care operations, which account for four of Ascension’s major markets and half of its $22.6 billion revenue. Declining government reimbursements and commercial customers, along with complicated regulatory requirements and mounting drug costs, are some of the significant reasons why Ascension has decided to move from inpatient to outpatient services. Ascension has also decided to move from a fee-for-service system to value-based care.
The new system is designed to embrace the way patients now choose to receive care. The changes that Ascension is putting in place have accounted for a $400 million reduction in administrative costs, which has come about as a result of changes in both the organizational and leadership structures.
The Impact of Changes in Operations
Ascension expects to save $57 million per year by following benchmark practices and management procedures. This new system will help the company align its pay practices, which will become possible once inconsistencies are eliminated. Achieving this will requires adopting new ways of doing things and consistently following these new practices.
Reduction in Staff
With its new restructuring plan, Ascension can reduce 500 employees across its 14 hospitals. As part of this, 20 high-level employees will be laid off, including executives and managers.
Diversification of the Healthcare Structure
The effects of outpatient care can be seen in many areas. There has been a huge growth in the number of micro hospitals, imaging facilities, after-hour clinics, surgery and procedure facilities, and retail and physician clinics. This is a true diversification of the healthcare structure which is taking many different shapes and forms.
Telehealth will Become More Prevalent
Telehealth is a huge part of the push for outpatient care. The ability to care for patients in their homes offers flexibility and ease, while lowering costs. This is an example of how Ascension hopes to deliver more value. One of the many ways to experience and produce great outpatient healthcare at a reduced price is to make patient healthcare information and files easily accessible to all related healthcare providers. This, in essence, is a reduction, duplication, and utilization.
Outpatient healthcare provides a variety of options for the patient. One of the benefits is access to the closest facilities available to meet the patient’s specific needs. Outpatient healthcare is also incredibly adaptive in that it looks for the best ways to meet the needs of patients by focusing on all the variables — both spoken and unspoken. Outpatient healthcare seeks to build health services around the key needs of patients.
The Beneficial Impact of Consumerism
Consumerism is expedient. It grants patients access to the services they need in real time, and at a price they can afford. Patients who can’t afford the high deductibles that have been such a prevalent part of the traditional healthcare system, can gain access to the specific type of care they need. In essence, consumerism puts the patient in the driver’s seat and provides them with information so that they can make informed decisions about care. It values the patient as the core decision maker when it comes to his or her own healthcare needs and services.
The Need for Seamless Organization and Analytics in Outpatient Care
Outpatient care requires a great deal of organization and efficiency. The right information must be easily accessible. This requires standardized practices that don’t vary, as well as communication that is shared across all the relevant healthcare platforms.
Traditionally, providing quality healthcare has meant focusing on all the details. Analytics enable healthcare professionals to wade through the vast amount of information and spot inconsistencies, problems, and areas of potential improvement. Analytics allow healthcare professionals to address the exceptions and create substantial changes that help improve the value and quality of the healthcare. Analytics make it easy for healthcare professionals to focus on problems and uncover opportunities for improvement.
As health systems like Ascensions move away from the traditional system and inch closer to outpatient care and value-based services, many changes will continue to take place as these systems are restructured, rebuilt, and created to support a more outpatient, telehealth-based system. There will be components that need to be in place in order for this system to be effective. The use of analytics will help healthcare providers identify both problems and opportunities as they work toward building a better, lower cost healthcare system.