Want to try your hand at managing a hospital in a capitated environment?
Using virtual reality technology, healthcare managers can sharpen their strategic planning skills with no risk of financial ruin.
Just as a pilot might learn to fly a new aircraft, healthcare administrators can simulate the transition from fee-for-service medicine to capitation using a new software system commissioned by the Healthcare Forum. The San Francisco-based education and research organization uses the system as part of a two-day retreat it began offering six months ago.
Innovation Associates, a management consulting and training company in Framingham, Mass., developed the software with a $175,000 grant from 3M Health Care in St. Paul, Minn. Seven healthcare organizations participated in testing the software.
Zipping through capitated cyberspace isn't like flying the Concord. Instead of colorful graphics, the interactive computer system uses black-and-white screens to illustrate such things as investment decisions, physician recruitment and staffing cutbacks.
"We didn't want it to look like a game," said Susan Klein, the Healthcare Forum's marketing manager. "Mastering the Transition to Capitation" is intended as a tool to help healthcare administrators explore the implications of capitation.
For $15,000, the Healthcare Forum will hold a two-day seminar for 24 of an organization's top leaders. Designed as part of the learning experience, the software cannot be purchased separately. At each session, a trained consultant leads a discussion on system thinking and strategic planning, and helps navigate teams of two or three through the computer model.
The model puts healthcare administrators and physicians in control of a hypothetical, 400-bed hospital in a community of 300,000. The hospital is based in a three-hospital town, with competitors of equal size, and serves fee-for-service, managed-care and capitated patients. In moving to a fully capitated system, senior managers must make key decisions, in two-year increments, over a 10-year period. One of the tricks is landing on the right combination of strategies.
The simulation is supposed to help healthcare managers understand the impact of their strategic planning decisions.
In addition to the seven test sites, 10 healthcare systems have participated in the simulation exercises. It's too soon to know whether the training has led to significant changes in the way systems are planning for the future. But the Healthcare Forum is keeping tabs on its students, and sessions are booked through July.
For more information, contact the Healthcare Forum at (415) 421-8810.