“I think the traditional definition of an integrated delivery network is going to change.”
These were the words spoken by Sarah Vaesi, Providencechief strategy and digital officer at Reuters events panel on building effective integrated care systems. The panel was held last year, but its transcript was released recently to offer guidance to health systems as they continue to grapple with staff burnout and inefficient work processes.
Providence is a large, vertically integrated health care delivery network with more than 50 hospitals, health plans, post-acute care centers and ambulatory care centers. But Vaezy said she’s not so sure that “it’s been foreshadowed that the model we have today is the model we’re going to continue to have going forward.”
She acknowledged that large integrated health systems have their advantages, such as cost savings, efficiency and continuity of care.
“All of those things are important, but getting there doesn’t necessarily mean you need one legal entity under which all this historical, legacy brick-and-mortar thinking rolls,” Vaezy said.
In her view, health systems will be more successful if they let go of the idea that they can do everything.
Vaezy pointed out that there is a “tremendous amount of innovation” coming from digital health companies, and that innovation is often aimed at improving hospital operational efficiency and patient engagement. Instead of taking the time to build all this technology in-house, health systems should partner with these companies, she argued.
“It’s not that we shouldn’t try to do certain things, but we shouldn’t try to do everything,” Vaezy said. “As health systems, especially as larger health systems that are vertically and horizontally integrated, we’ve tried. That’s creating a lot of what you see today, which is that we’re not very relevant to the needs of our users and our markets.”
Another participant – Jason Pike, Bon Secours Mercy HealthThe chief digital officer of — agrees with Vaezy.
When it comes to developing innovative technologies, he said health systems generally can’t compete with the speed of digital health companies and sometimes can’t compete with their talent.
“Integrated does not mean exclusive, because innovation happens everywhere. It’s not that a system like Bon Secours can’t do it themselves internally, but there’s a special focus that others have when they’re looking to innovate in a particular use case,” Szczuka said. “We have to be open to [partnerships]. Otherwise, we’ll just keep shrinking somehow.
Photo: elenabs, Getty Images