As health systems get larger, quality leaders are faced with the tough task of making sure outcomes are similar no matter where a patient receives care.
“Once you start adding more hospitals, it becomes very challenging to figure out how to align across the system,” said Ekta Punwani, leader of the 100 Top Hospitals Program at IBM Watson Health. “It’s not just about technology, it’s about strategies. How do you lead the organization? That is a newer challenge in healthcare.”
Consolidation continues across the industry, including the recently announced proposed merger of Atrium Health, Wake Forest Baptist Health and Wake Forest University that would create a 49-hospital system.
Mergers are usually touted by executives as a way to improve quality of care through expanded service lines and better efficiency, but there’s little research showing that actually happens. In fact, most literature illustrates that prices are lower and quality is better when there is more competition in the market.
Some of the organizations recognized this year on IBM Watson Health’s 15 Top Health Systems list for their better-than-average performance on certain CMS quality measures have also recently engaged in M&A activity. Four of the systems outlined strategies they have implemented to ensure quality of care is aligned across their operations, particularly exploring approaches when a new facility joins the organization and an entirely new entity is created post-merger.