MGR: A Patient-Centered Strategy for the Competing Marketplace (Dr. Thomas Lee)

paige_croppedDr. Thomas Lee, the Chief Medical Officer at Press Ganey Associates, Inc. and a practicing physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital discussed the key strategic themes of the health care reform era; suffering, loyalty and transparency. Dr. Lee opened with the challenging question of “how do we get our colleagues to be at our best reliably, because the marketplace now demands it?” What Dr. Lee means is that the healthcare industry is changing and it is up to organizations to find a way to successfully change while adding value to their patients.

The marketplace is increasingly becoming more competitive due to two common value based goals that organizations are striving for; meeting patients’ needs and doing so in an efficient manner. Dr. Lee compared the spread of values with that of an infectious disease  – given the right set of conditions, value for patients will improve. Patients have a wide range of values but receiving quality care by highly recommended clinicians is proven to be at the top. Dr. Lee emphasized the importance of patients being able to have peace of mind during visits as that would in return improve recommendation ratings for the clinician. The concept of transparency is traveling quickly through healthcare organizations by hospitals creating websites to rate clinicians. At the same time, patient satisfaction is constantly being measured with surveys and other online venues.

Dr. Lee argues that, until today, healthcare organizations did not necessarily need a good strategy but rather relied on operational effectiveness. Operational effectiveness is explained as 90 percent management and being as efficient as possible in completing the work at hand. Organizations have always had the choice to develop strategies, but Dr. Lee stressed the importance that in order to thrive within the marketplace today a well-developed strategy combined with operational effectiveness is what is needed for success.  The first step to developing a strategy is answering the two questions below:

  1. What are you trying to do and for whom?
  2. How are you going to make the strategy unique from other organizations?

The short answer to number one for Boston Children’s is providing the best care and experience to all patients and families. Other organizations may have a similar answer, as the high competing industry is now being driven by the ‘right things’ of patient needs and efficiency.

Dr. Lee also acknowledged the concept of “suffering” and how the use of the word has been avoided in major journal publications or newspapers. Dr. Lee explained that if a patient tells a doctor they are suffering, it is not actionable without more detailed information of symptoms.  With this information, Dr. Lee was tasked with writing The Word That Shall Not be Spoken’ in the New England Journal of Medicine. The New York Times then published a subsequent article and suffering was no longer a word that could not be used by journalists or at a visit to the doctor.  Rather it became a new goal for clinicians to further understand the word for each patient and to reduce their amount of suffering.

A well-developed strategy has become essential for healthcare organizations as the marketplace continues to change. With a patient-centered concept, a focus on values and the needs of patients must be incorporated into each strategy. Operational effectiveness is still as important as it always has been, but in order to remain a competitor, organizations must now determine how they will set themselves apart from one another. Transparency will continue to be a major factor for patients and clinicians in order for both parties to have peace of mind. The ultimate goal of any organization’s strategy must be to be the ‘last iceberg to melt’.

Click this link to view Dr. Lee’s slides and presentation

Paige Polak
IT Analyst
Meaningful Use Program

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