‘Will it make the boat go faster?’ Adopting a pragmatic approach to value-based healthcare

  • Posted on 08.07.2019

‘Will it make the boat go faster?’ Adopting a pragmatic approach to value-based healthcare


Stephen O’Callaghan

Director of Managed Services, Johnson & Johnson


Sometimes innovations come along which transform the way we deliver healthcare. Despite the strain the global healthcare system is under, it’s a time of great opportunity. Advances in medical technology have the potential to make a huge difference to a lot of people’s lives. We’re seeing examples of wearable technologies which can help diagnose conditions earlier, software that can help standardise surgical procedures, and patient monitors collecting data which has the potential to dramatically improve patient care.

Despite the buzz surrounding healthcare innovations, this MedTech Week I urge our industry to take a moment to remember the central reason we work in healthcare. This means putting the features and benefits to one side to focus on what stands to be gained by patients. Exciting as the latest product and service innovations are, we need to work in partnership with healthcare providers to understand the true value of these technologies.

CareAdvantage is our holistic approach to co-creating solutions with our partners. By looking at the whole system through a value-based lens, we have shown we are able to deliver what really matters: improved patient experience and outcomes in a sustainable way.
Every new technology that’s introduced must improve the patient experience. I like to take a lesson from one of our winning British Olympic rowing teams; their approach to training meant that every time they made a change, they asked themselves the only question that mattered, “Will it make the boat go faster?” Let’s also adopt this mindset for our customers.

MedTech has the potential to deliver marginal and major gains for patients. A lot of the time we focus on the big advances, but often ensuring the basics are right and delivering incremental gains can in fact make the biggest difference to patients. This includes making sure the patient pathway through the hospital is the best it can be: from scheduling, arrival and the assignment of an appropriate medical team in a timely fashion for every interaction.

Inefficiencies in the system are bad for a patient’s experience but can also impact staff. It can mean they need to work longer hours and lose their work/life balance, which affects morale and, ultimately, performance. These may seem like minor problems but added together they can undermine patient outcomes.

Challenges like these don’t require the most innovative of technologies, but we know finding a solution to these inefficiencies can make a real impact. In one case we were able to work with a hospital to introduce managed systems and as a result, the site saw its Net Promoter Score, measuring customer satisfaction, significantly increase. Staff were able to start on time, dedicate more time to patients, and finish on time. Morale and performance improved because we fixed the underlying system. Again, it’s all about those incremental gains to improve overall patient outcomes.

As a supplier, we have a responsibility to ensure that every piece of technology introduced is measured against whether it delivers value and improves the patient experience; “Will it make the boat go faster?” Investing in an expensive technology may help the hospital gain ‘the halo effect’ of association with innovation; however, does the evidence suggest it will help them achieve the triple aim of improved patient outcomes and satisfaction at a reduced total care cost?

Part of that responsibility is for companies like ours to continue supporting and collaborating with healthcare provider partners by learning and focusing on what value means to them. Value-based healthcare is all about healthcare providers’ core priorities. The hospitals that truly take a value-based approach to the care they deliver will significantly reduce cost, become more efficient, more productive and will ultimately improve patient experience.

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