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Feature Story: Health systems are fighting back against disruptors

Executives talk strategy for taking on Amazon, other non-traditional providers

By John B. Mugford

From left to right: BOMA Suburban Chicago event organizer Dave Narey of Irgens, Morgan Busch of Intermountain Healthcare, Tina Pell-Doyle of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, Mark Hoffman of Edward-Elmhurst Health System and moderator Murray W. Wolf of HREI. (Photo courtesy of BOMA Suburban Chicago)

Not too long ago, a hospital or health system could easily identify its main competitors: typically other hospitals, perhaps, or health systems, looking to enter its market or to fly their flag in unclaimed territory.

As we all know, much has changed, with today’s main disruptors, or competition, to a health system’s status quo coming from the likes of telemedicine, virtual visits, retail clinics, freestanding emergency departments (FEDs) and urgent care centers, with many of those options being provided by tech companies, Amazon, CVS, Walgreens, Walmart and so on.

Health systems obviously know this and are doing their best to protect their businesses by fighting back with technological advancements of their own, as well as putting a much larger emphasis on providing care in outpatient settings, which are frequently being called “low- and intermediate-care” facilities.

A trio of health system executives discussed their organization’s strategies in this new era of healthcare delivery during a panel discussion at the recent 2019 Healthcare Real Estate Symposium in Rosemount, outside of Chicago. The event was organized by BOMA Suburban Chicago and the Association of Medical Facility Professionals.

The session, titled “Strategic Perspectives on the Future Delivery of Care,” included: Morgan Busch, executive strategic partner with Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare; Mark Hoffman, system director of ambulatory development with Edward-Elmhurst Health System in Greater Chicago; and Tina Pell-Doyle, administrator, corporate outreach at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. Murray W. Wolf, publisher of HREI, moderated.

For the most part, the panelists said some of the strategies deployed by their systems included, perhaps among others: establishing their own telemedicine capabilities; doing their best to provide care at good prices; focusing on providing a growing number of services in intermediate-care settings that are in convenient locations; shying away from investing in new primary care clinics, which are the most vulnerable to today’s delivery model disruptors; building relationships that will last with their patients; forming partnerships with other providers to expand their reach; and others, such as analyzing the success of each and every service line and outpatient location within a system.

A total reorganization

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