Integrated delivery systems will be able to test their regional strategies through a new software program and facilitated learning experience.
The software program, "Creating Integrated Care and Healthier Communities," was developed by Innovation Associates, Waltham, Mass., and the New England Healthcare Assembly. The American Hospital Association also helped develop it and is marketing the product.
"The purpose of the product is to allow senior executives, trustees, physicians and others to look at the issue of how to create an integrated delivery system and at the same time improve the health of the community," said Barbara Harness, vice president of the AHA's Center for Health Care Leadership.
Using various generic healthcare organizations and communities, the software allows managers to illustrate how a particular business decision would affect the organization's finances, physician staffing and quality of care over a 10-year period. Users can choose among several generic scenarios, depending on the size of their network and community.
For example, if a system is considering the possibility of partnering with an insurer or group practice, the computer simulation can project the results and compare the effects of doing nothing.
"It gives executives an ability to develop better skills to understand how business choices can affect their organization,' said Richard Gregg, director of Innovation's healthcare practice.
Gregg warned, however, that "it is not a predictive model. It is a strategic-decision support tool, one where you can put your own strategy in a generic model and identify options."
It works like this: A hospital or system pays $26,000 for the "basic package," which consists of a two-day learning experience for up to 30 people. AHA members receive a 15% discount.
For $42,000, a healthcare organization purchases the "plus package," which includes the basic package and a license to use the software program unlimited times. In addition, Innovation trains two employees on how to facilitate the learning experience in a three-day training course.