Service lines: A Q&A with Suzette Jaskie

MedAxiom will host the Cardiovascular Service Line Symposium June 12-14 in Atlanta. Suzette Jaskie, president and CEO of MedAxiom Consulting, shares details about the program in a Q&A.

Does this year’s symposium differ from the past, and if so, how?

It absolutely differs. The vertically oriented way of doing business in healthcare, where hospitals and physician practices are separate from each other, is moving to a more horizontal or integrated approach. We are no longer talking about changing to a horizontal [structure], but now how do we create within it? The trend is fast moving and we are starting to have some solutions. That is what we  focus on in this program.

Did you incorporate feedback from past programs?

The first few programs, where participants were trying to get their arms around the new requirements of healthcare, were somewhat mind-boggling. The change is so dynamic; oftentimes people walked away either overwhelmed or depressed. We saw with our physician leaders that they were becoming disengaged.

In this meeting we say, “Healthcare reform is here. It is not going away. There are things we can do to create value in our industry. What are some of the solutions? Where do you start?” This conference is based on speakers from all different directions—systems, hospitals, practices, doctors—but they all have solutions to similar problems we see from hospital to hospital. These are places to start. We no longer are talking about the theory of what will happen. We are trying to give people tangible, walk-away things that they can take home to programs they can implement.

Will they also discuss mistakes they have made?

We chose people who are willing to share what worked but also what didn’t work. I have an expression that is on my bulletin board that says, “Make new mistakes.” If we can learn from each other’s mistakes and not make the same ones over and over again, then we have really accomplished something.

What roles do service lines play in healthcare reform?

They are the new business model and the new delivery [model]. The whole idea of service lines is that instead of managing services for similar kinds of patients, in our case cardiovascular services, in separate entities, we now are saying a patient needs cardiovascular services that occur everywhere, in all settings. Why are we not organized from a management, staffing and efficiency performance perspective to view ourselves and manage ourselves from the same lens as a patient experiences us?

We do very well in a contained setting. The place where we lose value so often is in the transition between different settings, organizations, staffing, management and priorities. The service line is a way to view the healthcare system and the healthcare industry from the patient’s perspective and requires us to manage and make capital and operations decisions relative to a whole continuum of care and not just a slice of it.

Where there is one service line in a hospital system, and it oftentimes is cardiovascular to start, once that starts working, hospitals typically are adding service lines. The service line will drive strategy, performance, operations and market. Individual facilities, whether it is a clinic or a hospital or a nursing home, will be operational units that will be responsible to manage operational and not strategic or performance things.

How will the symposium position attendees to meet the challenges of healthcare reform?

One of the first presentations of the session is managing strategic change. What we are seeing inside hospital systems is chaos: there is so much change, so many new requirements and regulations, with fewer resources, and so much more scrutiny of the work we do, that it is chaotic. Hopefully this conference will give our attendees some tangible places to calm the chaos.

They will all start and leave from different places. Because we have physician leaders, CEOs of systems, directors of cath labs, folks who are leading from all different aspects of their organizations, I hope we have enough based on solutions and implementable places to start, that they can walk out with three or four tangible [strategies]. Often it is hard to see the whole picture of what to change in an organization but it becomes clearer if you start creating some successes.

The symposium is co-sponsored by Cardiovascular Business and the American College of Cardiology. For more information, click here.