Healthcare CEO: Concentrate on being the best in the market, not the biggest

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In a merger-heavy environment, growth may look like an easier option than improving, but HSS CEO Lou Shapiro says success depends more on getting better than getting bigger.

Changes in the healthcare industry have driven increased consolidation as hospitals seek to remain competitive in a rapidly changing market. Hospitals don’t get better just because they get bigger, however, cautions a leading healthcare executive.

Lou Shapiro
Louis A. Shapiro
Under the leadership of Lou Shapiro, president and CEO of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, the 154-year-old facility has become a mainstay at or near the top of “best of” rankings in orthopedics. The hospital is also no stranger to game-changing innovations, such as a patient engagement initiative, which snowballed into the enormous online forum Back in the Game, where patients share stories about their orthopedic and rheumatological surgeries.

Recently, Shapiro distributed a road map to HSS employees that details the hospital’s plan for intelligent improvement in an industry where mergers and acquisitions continue at an extremely high rate. In an interview with Becker’s Hospital Review,  he spoke about the keys to success for healthcare facilities in the current climate:

  • Better doesn’t necessarily mean bigger, With the shift in focus from volume to value, Shapiro cautions against the urge to grow as an alternative to improving outcomes and providing quality care. “There’s a lot of organizations that aren’t the best at what they do, or aren’t better than a lot of others in the marketplace, so they’re investing in being bigger as a way of trying to have influence in the marketplace or get economies of scale so they can make investments,” he told the publication.
  • Get everybody in the organization to buy in. Shapiro said he distributed his roadmap throughout the organization because he wants all employees to understand the organization’s plan and feel ownership for it.
  • Connect with patients wherever and however you can. HSS has expanded into additional regional markets organically, according to Shapiro. He said the overriding goal has been “delivering HSS caliber care closer to where people live and work.” He said the same principle underlies innovative programs designed to disseminate institutional knowledge more broadly throughout regional and global markets.