Goldilocks: The importance of “Just Right” in this volatile healthcare environment

The Healthcare debate started by our President is a bold step forward for this country. The resulting healthcare legislation was not the end of an arduous process, but in fact, was the beginning. Some say it is good, some say it is bad. Whichever camp you are in, or if your are still deciding, one thing is for sure: The next decade will bring about a lot of change in the real system of healthcare delivery.

There will be many expected and unexpected effects, good and bad, from not only the healthcare bill, but also the national discussion that has been created by President Obama’s lead. (We cant tell you the number of times the first topic of discussion at a meeting with a Healthcare Provider’s  President or CFO is focused on what the future of healthcare is going to look like).  Maybe an effect of the healthcare bill, maybe an effect of the economy, or maybe a different mindset by our citizens, Humana is reporting a 21% increase in profits this week on weaker demand of its services:   “Much of this favorable development was due to a lower level of health care services utilization, which has continued through the second quarter,” James H. Bloem, Humana’s chief financial officer, said. This means hospitals, private practice, and clinics rates of use have declined significantly. People are going to the doctor less, they are buying a smaller number of prescriptions, and they are delaying or not taking elective surgeries.

In order to effectively manage through these volatile times in healthcare, there will be one aspect that will make some hospitals more successful than others: management through reliable, clear data. A simple example is in hospital OR’s and other surgical departments. The budgets for implants and supplies have exploded over the last decade as costs for devices exploded. Mobile Aspects’ clients have the data at their finger tips to see exactly what procedures are trending higher and lower, what implants are being used or are in a “dead spiral”, and what they will need in the future. This enables them to constantly update their implant inventory in real time to a “Goldilocks” just right status.

Just this week a hospital executive was touting to Suneil Mandava, President and CEO of Mobile Aspects, how data from one of our systems is enabling them to balance their multi-million dollar inventory across their facilities and get rid of non-movers. It is not clear whether Humana and other insurers posting higher profits and smaller use of service is a permanent effect, or short term issue. One thing is for sure: the next decade of healthcare will be extremely volatile at both a macro and real clinical impact micro level. The most important thing a hospital can have is reliable, real time data and the conviction to constantly review and act on that data.