For healthcare executives it's a new year in a new century with new-and some not so new-challenges.
Confronting and conquering a long litany of obstacles is a frustrating prospect so early in the millennium. So instead of taking on the world, healthcare managers are better off concentrating on a few opportunities.
The list probably should include a focus on medical errors, which have caused a renewed scrutiny of the quality and integrity of hospitals and physicians. An Institute of Medicine report on errors has galvanized insurers, patient advocates, payers and politicians to demand a higher level of accountability from healthcare providers.
Your organization should respond by studying the problem and implementing a meaningful patient-safety program. Sharing data with staff and ultimately with the public is essential to improving quality and reducing the amount of medical mishaps.
Efficiency gains and prudent cost-cutting will dominate the agenda of many management teams. It's time for chief executive officers to demand proof that investments in information technology are paying off in the form of lower operating costs. If the savings aren't verified, consider changing vendors.
This year is the perfect time to redefine your organization's relationship with physicians. Options include selling practices back to physicians, sticking with an integrated delivery system or selectively partnering with the more powerful docs on staff. Each of these options carries high risk. But the alternative-doing nothing-is no option at all.
Physician participation in running your organization can't be overemphasized. The beginning of 2000 can be a time for a governing board audit. The goal is to assemble a board that is the right size and has the right chemistry and the right mix of expertise to guide your hospital or health system.
These are just a few challenges facing healthcare providers in the 21st century. As you proceed, the staff of MODERN HEALTHCARE promises to follow every step of the way. Good luck, and happy New Year.