In the May edition of Modern Healthcare, the featured article was on “The Pursuit of Systemness.” The authors pointed out the irony that health systems are often not very systematized. Systemness is the art of combining the best scientific information with the best practices across all their sites to consistently provide high quality clinical results and patient experience. And Jeff Goldsmith of Navigant says the true measure of systemness is if patients and their families recognize the quality and recommend it to others.

Although many believe that M&A activity is driven by better pricing with payers by those ever-larger health systems, this is not the whole answer. If Health Systems remain de-centralized and autonomous – without full integration – the bottom line will never be supported the way it should be. Hospitals are facing challenges that they can only weather by leveraging centralization and true productivity enhancement. I believe this can be done and supported without compromising patient care and true local community health.

This year, PWC released their 22nd Annual Global CEO Survey. The survey is always a fascinating view of global perspectives. This year I was struck by the fact that the #3 threat for the CEO’s businesses was the availability of key skills. This was not even in the top ten a year ago. In summary, “There is a shortage of skilled talent to clean, integrate, and extract value from big data and move beyond baby steps toward artificial intelligence (AI).”

As you scroll further down the survey, this graph appears to address the skills gap pain points. It seems like their ability to innovate is almost synonymous with the “people costs.”

Starting from the global perspective and then bringing it home to the health system in our markets, it becomes apparent that the merging and integration of systems requires more people, not less. As Ben Ulmansky, a managing director at the Advisory Board says, “System leadership consistently underestimates the time and effort it takes to get integration and systemness right.” And he adds, “Because of the resource demands, an organization may opt to remain a holding company and never embrace the challenge of integration.”

Integrating a health system is about leveraging size and scale. This means up-skilling your people is critical, retaining your people is critical, and utilizing your people to their highest and most value-creating role is critical. Clinical decision-making must be consistent and measurable.

With global demand on skilled resources and the push for systemness in our hospitals across the country, leaders need to prioritize their people. Healthcare leaders cannot compromise on their people, or as seen in the PWC survey, innovation will suffer, costs will increase, and quality will suffer.

In the next decade, we owe it to organizations to pursue excellence and growth not by compromising our people, but by investing in them.

At Shearwater Health, we are dedicated to creating a long-term career path for every one of our nurses and clinical professionals. Our people are our future, and they can be yours too. Contact Us today.

Bo Bartholomew
Chief Revenue Officer