SKU’d Culture club

As Baby Boomers and Generation Xers enter and approach, respectively, the Medicare realm, their journeys’ wake ush- ers in a phenomenon that these two generations of health- care professionals only poked, prodded and quixotically dismissed as quaint. Focusing on the prices (costs), processes and products (stuff) while paying politically correct lip service to the

patients — or more accurately and collectively, the people — represented fi nancial and operational legerdemain to what the next generation really values. What do the Gen Yers, Gen Zers or Millennials really value? People, which are part of culture and experience. And that choice often grates against historical and traditional business processes, depending on industry. During the SMI Fall Forum in Chicago, much of the buzz centered on how corporate mergers and acquisitions and new and emerging technologies continue to “disrupt” the status quo of healthcare “business.” Clinical disruptions that benefi t patients may be fi ne but fi nancial and operational disruptions can be tough to swallow unless you can be convincingly persuasive that they benefi t patients, leading to good publicity and generating more business.

But “culture” and “experience” both represent this warm-and-fuzzy, touchy-feely

stuff that really can’t be itemized and quantifi ed on a balance sheet or in a budget. At least, that is, until CMA decided to hinge Medicare reimbursement dollars on patient satisfaction scores calculated from emotionally subjective surveys of sensi- tive people easily annoyed. Disney bends over backwards to care for and love its customers so that they tell others and return themselves to spend more money. Why can’t Healthcare Inc. be more like Disney? Of course, the key differences are that people actually want to go to Disney and spend their own money on overpriced food and beverages and wearable mouse ears. Few, if any, actually want to go to a hospital as someone else nitpicks about paying the bills for overpriced products and services and wearable sensors. And you’re more likely to contract an infection at a hospital than at an amusement park. M&A and new tech may achieve several things worth noting: They reveal and illuminate process and workfl ow redundancies, add actual short-term costs offset by promised long-term gains and can bring out the best and worst in people. That third part of the equation points to some of the perceived challenges of consumer- directed healthcare.

Unhappy clinicians and administrators generally translate into unhappy patients that may take longer to heal, which translates into higher costs for healthcare ser- vices. Unfortunately, hospitals can’t rigidly require their clinical and administrative “characters” to play nice with the overly demanding “guests” no matter their personal or professional anxieties. Disney’s cast of anthropomorphic and fairytale human characters don’t enjoy such fl exibility.

Some say the older professionals are too set in their ways and refuse to change. However, they’re facing off with younger professionals who expect, welcome and demand change — particularly if it benefi ts them. Case in point: One healthcare executive at the Forum shared with an amused crowd how she favored one famous pizza product over another famous pizza product based on taste but ordered the less tasty pizza product more frequently because she enjoyed using that company’s online app. The app experience was pleasing so that pizza chain earned her business. If this isn’t a revelation about an emerging revolution than we haven’t evolved enough as an industry.

Cynics may dismiss this developing trend as drivel even as they play games and take photos with their mobile phones or check their vital signs and talk to colleagues through their wristwatches. Perhaps Dick Tracy’s Diet Smith should be running Healthcare Inc. Does this mean that the younger generation will accept mediocre or inferior products just so they can enjoy visually tracking when the product travels from manufacturer to distributor to provider loading dock? Don’t be silly; of course not. This means that culture and experience represent the newest layers added to a process where effi ciency and logic will fi nd it diffi cult to penetrate.


EDITORIAL Publisher/Executive Editor Kristine Russell

Senior Editor Rick Dana Barlow

Contributing Editors

Managing Editor Valerie J. Dimond (941) 927-9345, ext. 202 Kara Nadeau Susan Cantrell

ADVERTISING SALES East Coast Blake and Michelle Holton (407) 971-6286

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EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Jimmy Chung, MD, FACS, CHCQM, Director, Medical Products Analysis, Providence Health & Services, Seattle; Joe Colonna, Vice President, Supply Chain, Piedmont Healthcare, Atlanta, GA; Karen Conway, Executive Direc- tor, Industry Relations, GHX, Louisville, CO; Michele DeMeo, CRCST (Ret.); Dee Donatelli, RN, CMRP, CVAHP, Principal, Dee Donatelli Consulting, LLC, Overland Park, KS; Mary Beth Lang, Executive Vice President, Cognitive Analytics Solutions, Pensiamo, Pittsburgh, PA; Melanie Miller, RN, CVAHP, CNOR, CSPDM, Value Analysis Consultant, Healthcare Value Management Experts Inc. (HVME) Los Angeles, CA; Dennis Orthman, Associate Executive Director, Strategic Marketplace Initiative (SMI), Westborough, MA; Richard Perrin, CEO, Active Innovations LLC, Annapolis, MD; Jean Sargent, CMRP, FAHRMM, FCS, Principal, Sargent Healthcare Strategies, Port Charlotte, FL; Rose Seavey, RN, BS, MBA, CNOR, ACSP, Seavey Healthcare Consulting Inc., Denver, CO; Richard W. Schule, MBA, BS, FAST, CST, FCS, CRCST, CHMMC, CIS, CHL, AGTS, Director, Clinical Education, STERIS Corporation; Robert Simpson, CMRP, Retired President, LeeSar and Cooperative Services of Florida, Fort Myers, FL; Barbara Strain, Director, Value Management, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA; Deborah Petretich Templeton, R Ph., MHA, Chief of Care Support Services, Geisinger Health System, Danville, PA; Ray Taurasi, Principal, Healthcare CS Solutions, Washington, DC area

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