The Forum

What's really holding our care transformation back?

by Ashley Ford and Vidal Seegobin

Health care is slow to transform. We're seeing pockets of successful change around the world—but on the whole, it feels like as an industry we're not transforming fast enough. Why?

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We know that primary care needs to be more multi-disciplinary and accessible. Equally, we know that hospitals need to focus on complex intervention and stabilisation, and community care should connect primary and acute care effectively. But none of these responsibilities are in dispute. Nor do we think these are models we can't build.

Instead, we think there are two different hurdles in the way.

1. These networks of voluntary partners can't agree on who is in charge

It's the time spent on codifying reporting structures. It's the debate on who holds the budget. It's the fear of the hospital partner. And we understand why that feels like the immediate problem—politics can rip apart any cooperative effort.

If this is a problem you're facing, we'd like to offer some constructive guidance to get past it. Our review of successful networks indicates that "the leader" should be:

  1. An individual or group who can communicate where you're going in a way that is meaningful and important to different stakeholders (both inside and outside the group);

  2. An individual or group who can build and foster trust with stakeholders that difficult decisions will be treated with all necessary respect and thoughtfulness; and

  3. An individual or group who can and will negotiate trade-offs with partners who stand to lose even if the group stands to gain.

Now, no one organisation has a monopoly on those skills, so you shouldn't limit leadership by organisation type. The leadership skills above are far more important than where they come from.

But even as hard as it is to answer the "who is in charge" question of care transformation, it's not the hardest challenge ahead of us. Because even with defined leadership, we don’t get to stop our day jobs to build the future of health care. And that brings us to the second, and more difficult, hurdle:

2. Making moves to operate in our future state while still delivering on today's mandate

We heard loud and clear during our research agenda-setting period that delivering on today's objectives and making steps towards a new health care configuration is a key challenge facing CEOs.

The good news is we've done some of the leg work for you. We've launched our newest CEO series that begins in London. On 15 October 2019 and 19 November 2019, we're going to share a selection of moves you can make in the next 12 months that will maintain today's performance and help you transition to a future state. We'll illustrate how to make those moves through detailed case studies and offer time with your peer CEOs to hear how others are navigating this transition.

If you haven't already, you can register here.

Next, learn more with our expert perspectives on 'systemness'

Many health systems are only scratching the surface of the potential their scale offers. But today’s market leaders are leveraging purposeful integration and cohesive effort—what we call "systemness"—to streamline operations, deliver more reliable and coordinated care, rationalize fixed costs, and even transform entire delivery models.

Download our report for expert perspectives on how your organization can achieve "systemness."

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