I've come to believe that the only path to transformative healthcare is through more expansive collaboration. Our industry will continue to shift as we transition from a volume- to a value-based reimbursement model, and the skills of all participants are needed to navigate. When thinking about this transition, I'm reminded of the concept of a "center point" I learned from John Foley, a keynote leadership speaker and former Navy Blue Angel. John relates how the Blue Angels can fly a 24,000 pound jet loaded with 8000 pounds of fuel at speeds of 700 miles per hour—while only 18 inches apart. Center point is the physical location that centers Blue Angel maneuvers, and allows them to execute without crashing and burning. In a center point, all participants share the mission, and each pilot must focus on the point to not miss their mark. As we embrace the Triple Aim, we too must maneuver in a highly collaborative healthcare environment where all players contribute for the good of the whole.

ACOs are a great example of maturing collaboration in our industry; there are now 626 ACOs across the country covering more than 20 million lives.1 In many cases, conflicting business agendas between players make it difficult to synergize clinical outcomes agendas. For example, the ACO executive team is incented to keep patients out of the hospital, provide treatment at the lowest level of care, and emphasize preventative care. However, the executive hospital team may still have lucrative fee-for-service contracts that reward inpatient visits. These teams must work together to overcome conflicts and identify win–win opportunities, such as bringing patients who visit out-of-network providers back into the fold, and increasing the number of preventive procedures and therapeutic prescriptions provided through in-network facilities.

The need to bridge collaboration gaps across diverse business and clinical environments has increased the need for expert advice. A recent report by Bloomberg Businessweek noted that eighty-two percent of 250 C-suite executives responded that they won't decrease outside consulting expenditures over the next year, while forty-seven percent plan to increase the number of consultants used. More than five percent stated they planned to double their consulting spend.2

As you prepare for a complex future, center around these strategies to improve collaboration:

  1. In order to execute enterprise maneuvers, it's important to include multi-disciplinary representation on your healthcare analytics projects. Building healthcare analytics that support decision-making within your enterprise is never just an IT or Finance project. Instead, analytics create a framework for fostering information-driven behaviors across all healthcare stakeholders— and each stakeholder must be courted, coached, and championed.

  2. Don't underestimate the ripple effect. Without holistic analysis, decisions that appear to be quick wins may negatively impact your overall system or network. Use subject matter experts to help leaders explore, challenge and validate mission assumptions.

  3. Align with trusted advisors to develop network best practices and facilitate both high-level and in-depth organization views. Experts with broad experience developed from repeated exposure to prevalent problems can boost your analytics performance and help you avoid common pitfalls.
  4. Engage with the patient to embrace true population health management. Focusing on your center point – optimizing patient outcomes—while partnering with patients, providers and payers helps create coordinated action that benefits all participants.

Download our white paper, Optimizing Healthcare Analytics for more information on how collaboration in healthcare helps organization build strong analytics cultures.

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1"Growth and Dispersion of Accountable Care Organizations: June 2014 Update", Leavitt Partners.
2Sagler, Ira. "Where the Growth Is in Management Consulting." The Management Blog, BloombergBusinessweek, 13 June 2014. Accessed December, 22, 2014.

Tina Foster

About the author

Tina Foster, RN, BSN, MBA is vice president, McKesson Business Advisor Consultants. This group of tenured professionals provides extensive coaching and transformation services for a broad portfolio of innovative web-based and enterprise, vendor-agnostic analytics and benchmarking solutions. Customers who engage with McKesson Business Advisors have had success in managing population health and risk; advanced clinical and financial analytics; network capacity and throughput; and in improving regulatory compliance and quality outcomes. Tina is also a certified Black Belt in Six Sigma Process Excellence.