While most medical groups think they are in the business of treating illness, a new study indicates their future success will be assured only if they recognize the need to create a new model of business -- one that emphasizes customer relationships.
Those conclusions are based on research released in May at a meeting of the Healthcare Forum, a San Francisco-based research and education organization. Although the study did not directly query physician executives, the research has significant implications for all medical organizations.
Healthcare organizations are responsible for $1 trillion in expenditures annually, yet physicians and others feel constrained by what they perceive to be shrinking resources.
The reason, says one of the study's principals, Brian Wong, M.D., is "failure to understand our core business . . . As a result, we're misallocating capital."
Wong is director of healthcare strategy for Arthur Anderson, an international accounting and consulting firm that co-sponsored the study with the Forum and DYG, a New York market research organization. The study is based on telephone interviews conducted in the spring with 250 executives, 50 of them from hospitals, healthcare systems and health plans.
The research sponsors concluded that healthcare leaders give lip service to the importance of their employees and customers, but tend to focus on bricks and mortar and investments, much like manufacturing companies.
"There's a gap between what we say we value and what we are measuring. It cuts across all levels," Wong says.
Healthcare Forum President and Chief Executive Officer Kathryn Johnson says, "Healthcare leaders don't walk the talk."
Change is essential because the Internet and other information sources are invading the healthcare marketplace and creating competition for doctors, according to Wong.