Collaboration Can Work Magic and Vanquish Thorny Challenges

Xboundary_logoTwo recent articles show that even the most intractable problems can be overcome when organizations find ways to align their goals. Sometimes collaboration makes for strange bedfellows—like the military and environmentalists—but opportunity is often highest when when “mashing up” groups that are not used to working together. Innovation can produce surprising value when leaders open their minds, challenge conventional wisdom and make unthinkable changes—like paying a hospital more for treating patients less.

These stories are as inspiring as they are instructive because the people involved questioned assumptions, and I hope you enjoy them.

Healthcare Costs Hit in Solar Plexus

Virginia Mason Medical Center is Seattle’s third largest health care provider, and it began innovating in several areas after receiving a wake-up call from Aetna, one of the area’s largest insurers. In 2004, Aetna shared the results of a study that compared treatment costs of Seattle area hospitals. Several of Virginia Mason’s specialty practices were significantly more costly than alternatives, and Aetna was considering excluding those areas from coverage. In the ensuing two years, Virginia Mason innovated by using new workflow strategies in targeted treatment areas. For example:

In the spine clinic, […]

Chinese Prescription for Healthcare Providers

Chinese Prescription for Healthcare ProvidersChinese Prescription for Healthcare Providers predicts that China is showing itself to be very innovative in health care by implementing market-based offerings. The TEDA International Cardiovascular Hospital, just outside Beijing, offers six levels of service, ranging from $6.70 to $3,200 per night, as reported in “Hospital Caters to China’s Wealthy and Poor” in The Wall Street Journal or the hospital website. The lowest class of service has patients sharing a small room with other patients while “first class” includes a suite with a private gym, a garden, massage chair and other amenities.

China has an aging population of 1.3 billion to whom the government is struggling to provide health care. It regulates the prices of medicine and subsidizes basic services at public hospitals, but most people do not have western-type insurance and end up paying a major portion of their health care. The stakes are high today to solve the health care problem, and they are getting higher as the population ages.