Thoughts from Ken Kaufman
Q&A with Bruce Lawrence, President and CEO, INTEGRIS
Kaufman Hall: How has INTEGRIS been positioning itself for changes to healthcare’s business model?
Bruce Lawrence: An important example is a focus on the consumer. A number of years ago, as we studied the changing landscape, we recognized that with more and more people responsible for a greater portion of their healthcare costs, they were beginning to act like consumers. They were shopping for value, which in a lot of minds means lower costs.
As a result, four or five years ago we started repositioning ourselves in the way we price our outpatient delivery services that people shop for, such as radiology. It wasn’t okay anymore to say, “We’re hospital-based and so we need to charge more,” because if people were paying for services out of their pockets, they could go across the street to a facility that wasn’t hospital based.
People assume quality is everywhere, so we had to get more strategic about how we priced these services. We also had to be strategic about how we communicated our prices to consumers. We have pricing transparency on our website, and we encourage people to call so we can help them walk through their financial responsibilities.
Kaufman Hall: Are you able to link this consumer focus with a strategy for organizational growth?
Lawrence: Yes. We’re in the process of building four micro-hospitals in this market, which is something new for central Oklahoma. We will be able to put them in parts of our metropolitan area that were relatively underserved. These micro-hospitals should be able to handle about 90 percent of what comes to their door, and the other 10 percent will flow into one of our acute-care hospitals. That helps with consumer access and experience; it also drives volume for our ambulatory, retail-focused offerings in some areas where we haven’t had a real presence.
We anticipate continued growth in our outpatient services. In addition, we are growing our traditional inpatient volume, even though the overall rate of growth of inpatient admissions is down in the state of Oklahoma. We’ve focused specifically on cardiology, orthopedics, and oncology, and we are seeing growth through physician recruitment, bringing new procedures to the market, and taking market share away from some of our competitors.
Kaufman Hall: Tell us about how INTEGRIS has approached innovation at the system level.
Lawrence: For a couple of years, we had been looking for someone to take on a leadership role for innovation at INTEGRIS. Because our business is moving more and more toward a consumer focus, we wanted someone in this role who had a retail background, not necessarily someone who had worked in healthcare before. That would be a new and important skill set for the system. It took a while to find someone who was the right fit and had the right skill set, but several months ago we brought on Susan Dell’Osso as Chief Innovation Officer, and she is already bringing additional energy and focus on the consumer to the organization. Marketing and communications reports to this position, as does the head of our patient experience team. Also, the Chief Innovation Officer helps us ensure that all of our digital media are easily accessible and functional for our customers.
Kaufman Hall: What suggestions do you have for healthcare leaders looking to change the mindset of a large, complex organization toward this kind of consumer and retail focus?
Lawrence: One place to start is nomenclature. When I moved into this role seven and a half years ago, we made the point that we’re more than just a hospital company. We have employed physicians, we have outpatient offerings, we have rehab—we’re an integrated delivery system, short an insurance product. It’s an ongoing process. From time to time, I still have people talking about “the hospital.” Which one? We have eight. And what about the rest of our organization?
Another important change in nomenclature is how we talk about the people we serve. We use the term customer. We define a customer as someone who may or may not be a patient already receiving care in the system. Patients are customers, but other customers may be just looking for information or education, or looking for a physician, or wanting an urgent care or a virtual visit. We are really trying to broaden our view of who potential customers are. With digital connectivity and technology, that could be anyone on the face of the earth.