Five keys to success for health care systems

Health systems' success comes from an infrastructure that allows expansion, top physician recruitment and high clinical quality.

Changing dynamics and ongoing developments in medicine continue to push consolidation and collaboration within health care. Here are five ways health systems can sustain success amid market and political forces.

1. Build a strong workforce

Culture and engagement drive an organization. To be successful, find people who have the right values and passion, then unleash them. Trust them. Empower them to make mistakes. Health care isn’t like other businesses. We have a profound responsibility and privilege to care for people and their families.

2. Be adaptable

Policy changes have forced widespread consolidation, strategic partnerships and integration. Value-based care and shifting payment structures have crippled already failing hospitals and systems. To thrive health care organizations need to be vigilant and cement a foundation.

We can’t control the wind. We can only control the sail. And by diversifying portfolios with additional revenue streams and strengthening systems via expansion, you tighten your sail, which ultimately reduces the cost of providing care.

3. Integrate resources

Operating as one large unit with one bottom line and accountability at every level is essential, as is having a collaborative leadership structure that combines the strength of clinicians and administrators. Every business and clinical unit must follow and track the metrics that drive the success: quality, finance, efficiency and service. Find increased flexibility by perfecting and commercializing nonclinical services.

4. Grow smart

Diversify your clinical enterprise. A large outpatient network is crucial to building a dynamic network. Furthermore, a growing ambulatory network can lead to increased hospital referrals. Capacity needs to meet demand. Finding innovative business ideas outside of the provider network helps sustain clinical growth.

5. Improve efficiency

Large organizational structures can become unwieldy. Hospital efficiency is not about cutting FTEs or trimming management. Everyone is running lean. To become more efficient now, you have to change the process of care. Physicians, nurses and administrators working collaboratively is our strength. It allows us to see things differently than we have ever seen them before and allows us to become more efficient in ways we never dreamed of.

Mark Solazzo is executive vice president and chief operating officer of Northwell Health, New York’s largest provider and private employer with 22 hospitals and more than 550 ambulatory sites. Recently selected as one of Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 COOs, Mr. Solazzo oversees all operations of Northwell’s hospitals, long-term care facilities, the nation’s sixth largest physician group practice, an internationally recognized medical research institute and health care-related businesses, as well as a workforce of more than 62,000 employees.