4 survival tactics for the volatile healthcare industry

In the volatile world of healthcare, bold moves can sometimes lead to disaster and attempts to force a revolutionary idea can lead to serious repercussions, writes Dan Beckham in a Hospitals & Health Networks opinion piece.

Beckham, president of the South Carolina-based strategic consulting firm Beckham Co., lists a series of tactics hospital and healthcare system leaders can use to keep their organizations stable during times of tribulation: 

  1. Make incremental moves. The current chaotic healthcare environment constantly shifts and changes, which means hospitals and health systems must consider short-term moves, making incremental decisions and navigation to get to an end goal, Beckham writes. Moving incrementally allows time for feedback, and the faster and more moves they make, the more feedback organizations can gather.

  2. Follow the "OODA" concept. Based on a dogfighting theory from U.S. Air Force pilot John Boyd, Beckham writes about "Observing, Orienting, Deciding and Acting." The most important steps of the process involve analyzing, synthesizing and using that data to make a decision.

  3. Act deliberately. Beckham refers to strategies employed by the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), citing words from Jack Feussner, M.D., executive senior associate dean of clinical affairs on the changing healthcare environment: "We hunker down, take a licking, get up, brush ourselves off and move on. We're pretty confident about who we are and where we're headed. That doesn't mean we sit still. We know new reimbursement models are coming, that private practice is consolidating, that technology will continue to make seismic shifts, so we've attacked our costs, expanded access to our services, solidified relationships with hospitals and physicians throughout the state and worked hard to stay close to the action."

  4. Break down silos. Beckham notes that MUSC conducts weekly meetings to generate a shared vision and break down barriers between different parts of the organization. MUSC's weekly leadership council is made of up of dozens of doctors from various parts of the organization, where leaders make continuous adjustments to strategies and tactics, and engage one another through ongoing dialog.

These more cautious, but still deliberate and incremental movements served MUSC well--making it the most preferred healthcare organization in its service area in 2013, with an overall market share that grew 7.5 percent from 2012 to 2013, Beckham writes. 

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