GE Healthcare Camden Group Insights Blog

2017 Brings Continued Transformation to Healthcare, Driving Innovative Approaches, Solutions, and Experiences

Posted by Matthew Smith on Jan 17, 2017 12:51:21 PM

In an industry now characterized by constant change, 2017 will bring continued transformation to the nation’s healthcare system. Our annual outlook for the coming year forecasts the trends related to the likely changes to the Affordable Care Act ("ACA"), adoption of value-based payer models, and emerging consumerism will drive a greater need for cost reduction and innovation. Here’s a look at the trends and factors that will impact the system during the coming year:

Macro Trends

A number of significant macro trends are at play, driving the need for change. These include:

  • U.S. healthcare costs are rising faster than inflation.
  • U.S. healthcare expenses per capita have been historically low compared to the previous few decades; however, those costs are expected to rise over the next few years.
  • There have been cumulative increases in health insurance premiums and workers’ contributions to premiums compared to the rate of inflation and the rise in workers’ earnings.
  • Between 2014 and 2060, the size of the population age 65 and older will have more than doubled to 98 million.

Consolidation in Many Forms

  • Mergers and acquisitions among providers will continue and expand on an even grander scale as regional players, as well as large, multi-state systems, such as Dignity/CHI, explore the benefits of consolidation. The need to serve larger populations to succeed in risk-based payment models has prompted many systems to join forces. Expect statewide or multi-state population health collaboratives or joint-ventured population health service organizations. "In addition, traditional healthcare providers will seek endeavors with experts in urgent care, retail medicine, outpatient surgery, post-acute care, occupational health and digital health to take advantage of ‘best in class’ care and business expertise. Some systems will discover they have over-extended, or need to pause and integrate what they have acquired, formed, or merged into," said Laura Jacobs, MPH, president, GE Healthcare Camden Group.
  • Similar dynamics will impact the payer landscape. Regardless of whether the Federal Trade Commission approves mergers between Anthem/Cigna and Aetna/Humana, many markets may have more limited insurance options. With the uncertainty in the future of Health Insurance Marketplace or insurance exchanges, given expected changes to the ACA, payers will carefully weigh the benefits of offering select products market by market. In addition, as Medicaid shifts to managed care in many markets, experienced payers, such as Molina Healthcare, are increasing their national footprint. Medicare Advantage payers rated less than four stars will experience increasing difficulty to compete, resulting in growing membership in the higher-rated plans.
  • Finally, the lines between payers and providers will continue to blur. In some markets, regional health systems have moved into the payer marketplace -- often as a Medicare Advantage plan or a plan to cover the health system’s own employees -- to create competition and affordable options for their consumer base. Some payers will be increasingly open to partnerships with providers in launching new health plan products or delivery models.

Payment Models: Focus on Value

  • Regardless of the specific changes that may come with changes to the ACA, payers (Medicare, Medicaid, employers, and commercial insurance carriers) will seek ways to lower costs and improve the experience (quality and satisfaction) for patients.
  • With Medicare setting the trend, payment models have shifted to include performance measures, based on factors such as hospital-acquired conditions, readmissions, patient experience and quality scores. Bundled payments are still being pursued by commercial carriers, and, for now, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services ("CMS").
  • The Medicare Access & CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 ("MACRA") will have a significant impact on physicians, while CMS allows different paces of entry. These changes mean that physician payment will depend more on quality, patient experience, use of electronic medical records and resource utilization. Even in markets where risk-based models (downside risk, capitation or percentage of premium) are not yet practiced, private commercial carriers have adopted CMS approaches, including models such as accountable care organizations, pay-for-performance, and bundled payments. As a result, this will require smaller physician practices to seek assistance to report required metrics – or join larger practices or systems that have the required infrastructure.
  • Overall, one of the most difficult challenges for healthcare organizations today and for 2017 will be harmonizing population health strategies with the market’s movement to value-based payment; moving too fast or too slowly will affect financial performance.

Cost Drivers: Pharmacy and Behavioral Health Under Scrutiny

  • While inpatient and physician care account for the majority of healthcare costs, pharmacy costs have been increasing at a faster pace, a trend that is likely to continue into 2017.
  • The new year also will bring a greater focus on behavioral health. Because individuals with mental health disorders often have higher medical costs and tend to use emergency departments more frequently, behavioral health also will engender greater scrutiny. This is a particular concern with the Medicaid and dual Medicaid/Medicare population, when behavioral health is often untreated, or other socio-economic conditions, such as lack of housing and poor nutrition exacerbate health risks. Social determinants of health will be raised more frequently as factors to consider in population health programs, requiring health systems to connect with community service organizations to drive better outcomes and better health for at-risk individuals.

 Cost Reduction: The Pressure Is On

  • Many hospitals have experienced relatively stable financial performance over the last couple of years -- some, even better than expected due to a rise in volume, particularly in outpatient services. Yet other issues will come into play moving forward. Higher employment rates and expanded coverage for individuals through the ACA have increased demand at the same time the nation is experiencing primary care shortages. High emergency department volume will place increased pressure on inpatient capacity, operating room schedules and care management resources.
  • Lower rate increases also amp up the need to reduce costs. Facilities must manage patient throughput even more efficiently and reduce variation through defined work flows and clinical protocols. Precious resources, like hospital beds and ORs, must be optimally utilized to avoid potentially unnecessary capital outlays for new bed towers or surgery centers. Some leading hospitals are exploring capacity command centers commonly used in complex industries such as aviation and power. These initiatives combine systems engineering principles with predictive analytics to manage and optimize patient flow, safety, and experience.
  • The physician enterprise, which in most cases operates at a loss, must be managed to optimize physician time and align compensation models with goals and population health strategies.

Innovation: Delivering New Experiences and Approaches

  • Consumers will exercise more leverage, forcing providers to focus on the “consumer” experience – not simply the “patient” experience. This concept encompasses physical space, logistics, communication, and an organization’s approach to care. As systems expand, this means providing a consistent consumer experience across the continuum and locations. Rising deductibles will contribute to increasing selectivity, as will new disrupters in the digital and care delivery space. Issues to focus on include price transparency; access -- where, when, and how the patient desires; quality reporting; social media strategies; and digital outreach to create consumer awareness and loyalty.
  • Care models will continue to evolve in 2017 thanks to the explosion of mobile technology, applications for home and self-monitoring, and expansion of urgent care facilities and retail care centers. New digital tools and approaches to primary and complex care will emerge, backed by private equity and employers. One component of this trend, telemedicine, will expand beyond rural areas into the mainstream for the convenience of consumers who prefer not to leave their home or office. Home and self-monitoring will provide more responsive care to the elderly and other patients with complex conditions. These dynamics expand the geography of competition, which could arise from anyplace accessible by cell phone. To remain competitive, health systems will have to partner with entities providing these options, adopt them, or devise their own solutions.
  • After making significant investments in electronic medical records and a plethora of other information technology ("IT") tools -- financial systems, data warehousing, care management, predictive analytics, disease management, and scheduling among them – there’s a new dynamic at play. During 2017, healthcare systems will focus on getting these systems to work together to optimize decision-making and forward-looking actions. It will be essential to have a clear data governance structure and system architecture focused on required operational and clinical outcomes.
  • Looking ahead, artificial intelligence (for example, IBM’s “Watson”) and the “internet of things” (the way digital equipment “talks” to each other) will change the roles and responsibilities of healthcare providers and team members, as well as care pathways.
  • Expect additional traction on noteworthy clinical advances:
  • Precision medicine based on the genetic profile of an individual will be more accessible, particularly for cancer care, but not yet mainstream. But watch this trend; it could accelerate rapidly.
  • 3D printers will enhance the ability to replace organs and tissues, but for now remains largely in the province of research labs.
  • Robotics will continue to be used in operating rooms and will begin moving to the bedside, lifting, moving, or even interacting with patients.
  • Academic medical centers may discover expanded opportunities to partner with community providers to research and deploy new clinical treatment options.
  • In an industry where labor costs still comprise the lion’s share of operating expenses, workforce management has always been essential. Today, the responsibilities of clinicians and non-clinicians are also changing as health systems transform in response to population health and value-based care models. Generational differences and job burnout from constant change and rising expectations will require new approaches to recruitment, talent development and training, workforce management, and engagement.

Topics: Payment Models, Care Model Redesign, Healthcare Transformation, M&A, Healthcare Innovation

MACRA: How the New Merit-Based Incentive Payment System Will Impact Physician Practices

Posted by Matthew Smith on Jul 14, 2016 4:15:34 PM

By Nidhi Chaudhary, Consultant, GE Healthcare Camden Group

Healthcare delivery and its corresponding costs are changing due to recent industry trends. Value-based programs reimburse healthcare providers for the quality of care they provide to patients. To support this, the Medicare Access & CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (“MACRA”) intends to reform Medicare payments to physicians over the next several years. MACRA has two pathways:

  1. The Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (“MIPS”)
  2. Alternate Payment Models (“APMs”), which will take effect starting in 2017.

In order for practices to survive and compete in this value-based environment, specific initiatives must be deployed this year. 


Transitioning to the MACRA MIPS model

There are currently multiple quality and value programs for Medicare providers: Physician Quality Reporting Program ("PQRS"); Value-Based Payment Modifier; and the CMS EHR Incentive Program. 

MACRA streamlines those programs into MIPS and adds a fourth category called Clinical Practice Improvement Activities. Below is an example of MIPS Scoring for Year 1:


Challenges Faced by Physicians:

  • Uncertainties surrounding the shift from volume-to-value
  • Potential reduced reimbursement for services
  • Tracking of quality and cost management
  • Optimizing electronic health record (“EHR”)/registry use

Key MACRA questions for medical groups:

  • What does the current Quality and Resource Use Report (“QRUR”) tell you?
  • What is the implementation plan for 2016 and 2017?
  • What are the right measures that should be tracked and reported? Are workflow changes required?
  • What clinical practice improvement activities will be added?
  • How will the current infrastructure support the initiatives?
  • Is additional technology required?
  • How will the composite score be optimized?
  • Do we have adequate resources and education opportunities to be successful?

How can GE Healthcare Camden Group help organizations create and navigate a MACRA roadmap for 2017?

We help organizations:

  • Identify gaps and priorities by performing a MACRA readiness assessment
  • Help groups form and facilitate a steering committee with a shared vision
  • Integrate change management methodologies to ensure success
  • Create education and communication plans
  • Develop a tactical MACRA roadmap focusing on strategic and operational objectives   
See our sample work plan and timeline below:


If you want to get started with your own, personalized MACRA roadmap, click the button below and a GE Healthcare Camden Group MACRA expert will be in touch to start you on your way.



Ms. Chaudhary is a consultant with GE Healthcare CamdenGroup specializing in delivering strategies, working to provide more efficient and lean processes as well as coaching leaders and management. Ms. Chaudhary joined GE Healthcare in 2007 and has extensive experience in Regulatory Affairs and Quality Engineering pertaining to both medical and pharmaceutical devices. Ms.Chaudhary has provided support for strategic and business planning while working within the business and with the medical staff at multiple hospitals. She may be reached at


Topics: Value-Based Care, Payment Reform, Value-Based Contracting, Payment Models, MACRA, MIPS, Nidhi Chaudhary

Initiative Governance: Is Your Team Organized to Drive Decision-Making, Make Change, and Improve Culture?

Posted by Matthew Smith on May 2, 2016 11:59:25 AM

By Vesna Gernot, MBA, Vice President, and Nehal Koradia, RN, MBA, Manager, GE Healthcare Camden Group

The term “Governance” will lead some to think of their Board of Directors or the dozens of committees that some organizations have collected over time. We use Governance more broadly—as the foundation for a focused transformational effort and the engine to sustain performance gains. Initiative Governance is a critical component to any group of people working together to drive change—it nurtures or reshapes the culture and ultimately affects how work gets done.

In this context, Governance applies to an enterprise initiative, program, service line, or functional area. And the need for Initiative Governance is growing with new payment models driving integration across groups that, in the past, have individually provided direct care for the patient but have never had to be truly, directly accountable to each other – such as bundled payment programs or patient experience across the care journey.  

For illustration purposes, surgical services is a great example of how individual politics and incentives might cause misalignment. Most surgical service lines or OR departments have had a committee structure for years, but leaders commonly acknowledge that surgeons don’t attend, meetings are infrequent, real decisions aren’t made, and the “committee” becomes a forum for turf wars and complaints. The unintended results can be mounting frustration over inaction and overall distrust. (Click here for a related post on surgical services.)       

In order to avoid this frustration, organizations must set up an Initiative Governance structure instead of a committee structure. The difference is governance includes meetings that have a clear agenda aligned with key priorities, a cross-section of leaders that makes decisions, utilization of validated, transparent data, and an equitable approach to holding all parties accountable. It may seem like common sense—but not common practice because sustainable improvement and cultural change requires investment beyond a recurring calendar hold, dashboard, and an individual manager to run it all.

Here are questions we ask our senior executives and physician leaders to consider:

  1. Do we have the right people actively involved? Is our governance inclusive of management, physicians, and clinical staff? For physicians, do we have balanced representation of specialties, employed and independent, long-term and new, protagonist and antagonist? Based on strategic priority, do we have a senior executive sponsor that actively and consistently participates?
  2. Do we have the right structure in place or do we need to refresh it based on the times? Is there an operating structure, charter, and established guiding principles?
  3. When did we last review the guiding principles? Do our principles inform the policies and procedures? Does everyone know and have access to these? Who on the current committee was directly involved in their development?
  4. What data analysis have we done to clearly identify our strengths and improvement opportunities? Are we looking at the right measures, and do we know where we should be? Have we walked the committee through this data—is it understood by all and when it isn’t, do we do more socializing through one-on-one discussions?     
  5. Are we using the right metrics to track progress? Are we using data and the policies to make timely, consensus-driven decisions? Or do one-off anecdotes and silo’d views still create bias?
  6. Are we consistently transparent with the data? Do we break down this information by physician, service line or functional area to drive accountability?     
  7. Do we prompt immediate operational implementation? Do we have sub-committees in place to create focus in key areas and empower bottom-up continuous improvement?   
  8. Do we position formal and informal change leaders? Do we equip them with data and change management tools to know when and how to lead productive peer-to-peer conversations?
  9. What is our communication plan for goals, actions, and progress—for our committee, the broader service line or organization, physicians and staff, and related executive committees?  

Lastly, when we invest in this type of governance and it works as intended…

  1. Is senior leadership ready and aligned to address opportunities and barriers that are raised? Are they willing to empower this governance structure to make decisions?

GernotV.jpgMs. Gernot is a vice president with GE Healthcare Camden Group and works with health system executives to improve operational and financial performance through focusing on care delivery efficiency, strategic capacity planning, enterprise strategy activation, and change management. She is responsible for helping clients design enterprise performance initiatives and leading GE engagement teams to deliver. She may be reached at



KoradiaN.jpgMs. Koradia is a manager with GE Healthcare Camden Group. She has been leading healthcare organizations through transformation initiatives for over nine years. Ms. Koradia has worked with many large academic centers and community hospitals to transform their operating rooms, decrease readmission rates, increase early morning discharges, and reduce ER wait times by utilizing simulation modeling. She may be reached at



Topics: Payment Models, Vesna Gernot, Surgical Services, Initiative Governance, Nehal Koradia

Bundled Payments and the Breakthrough Power of Partnerships

Posted by Matthew Smith on Jul 30, 2015 1:00:19 PM

As bundled payment programs are expanding across specialties, payers, and sites of care, it is becoming increasingly clear that the path to success can be summarized in one word: partnerships.

Who is Your Apple?

Consider the successful partnership between Nike and Apple. Although they are in different industries, their commonality lies in their customers. As a result of their partnership, both companies have experienced enhanced brand recognition, in addition to significant market and sales growth. Nike CEO, Mark Parker said about their partnership with Apple, “As I look ahead at what's possible with Nike and Apple...technologically we can do things together that we couldn't do independently. So yeah, that's part of our plan, is to expand the whole digital frontier and go from...25 million Nike+ users to hundreds of millions (”[1] Who is that perfect partner that you had not previously considered, and what can you accomplish together?

Why it Matters

How do these strategic partnership examples apply to healthcare? The same patient that has an inpatient stay and is discharged to a post acute care facility has one goal: to get home pain-free as fast as they can. Bundled payment arrangements are holding both providers accountable very differently than the traditional fee-for-service model. How can potential partners leverage one another to expand their existing capabilities and utilize resources in innovative ways? All provider organizations are facing demand destruction pressures, and partnering may help both parties retain much needed volumes and revenues, while continuing to provide excellent patient quality.

New relationships between providers, and between payers and providers, are being forged to advance payment transformation efforts through bundled payments. Providers are looking beyond their four walls, obtaining, analyzing, and sharing data, and partnering across the care continuum to enable patient-centric care delivery with a new focus on value and total cost of care.

Identifying the right partner organizations is paramount to a successful bundled payment program. Providers should consider partnerships with organizations that are innovative, philosophically aligned around value-based care, cost-efficient, and high performing in their markets. Today’s strategic partnership evaluations require a willingness to look beyond the closest geographic provider or the provider organization that has historically been the preferred referral choice. Publically available data from sources such as The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ("CMS") Hospital Compare, Nursing Home Compare, Home Health Compare, Physician Compare, and Dialysis Facility Compare enable providers to proactively evaluate and identify potential candidates for partnership.

The Right Sandbox

Bundled payments are the perfect testing ground for partnerships where gainsharing programs can be established to strengthen provider engagement and evaluate potential for long-term strategic alignment. This allows participants to demonstrate their ability to eliminate unnecessary variation in care and meet the agreed upon goals of the program without assuming risk that providers may not be prepared to manage. Bundled payment programs and accountable care organization initiatives can be very complementary, and many organizations are choosing to pursue both simultaneously.

The ability to expand the external focus and consider the full continuum of care requires very different commitment and communication between providers. Partners must develop innovative solutions and continue to make information technology investments to overcome the frequent inability of electronic medical records to transmit data between different platforms and providers. They must also be willing to collaborate clinically through the standardization of care protocols and/or seamless coordination across care settings. Perhaps more importantly, they must be willing to demonstrate mutual accountability for patient outcomes and the total cost of care.


Topics: Payment Reform, Bundled Payment, Payment Models

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