Leadership Initiatives to Drive-down the Cost of Care in the U.S.

It has now been eight years since the passing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and roughly four years since its full implementation.  To-date, while it can be argued that the ACA has increased access for many U.S. citizens, the out-of-pocket expenses for many, and the total cost of healthcare in the U.S., continues to increase faster than the rate of inflation (Orentlicher, 2010).[i]  Okpala and Campbell (2018) posited that there are three main drivers for the increase in the costs of healthcare services: Diagnostic procedures, specialty referrals, and patient hospitalization.[ii]

In order to address these three drivers, Okpala and Campbell (2018) opined that we, as leaders, must establish patient-centered care initiatives which include: allowing patients to collaborate with physicians, ramping up primary-care services, and restructuring our facilities to avoid the duplication of diagnostic services.[iii]

Allowing patients to collaborate with physicians leads to more accurate diagnoses which, in turn, improves treatment times for patients.  Increasing primary-care services, with a heavy focus on preventative care, may help decrease the rate of patient hospitalization.  The restructuring of facilities, primarily through the use of data management systems and patient tracking should decrease the occurrence of unnecessary diagnostic procedures (Okpala & Campbell, 2018).[iv]

The suggestions given by Okpala and Campbell (2018) seem to relate back to our need as leaders to focus the primary essence of healthcare.[v]  Drucker (2008) reminded us that in order to be successful in any industry, we must

  • know our mission,
  • know who our customer is,
  • know what the customer values,
  • understand how we are doing in meeting that need, and
  • develop a plan.[vi]

In healthcare, we seem to have a firm grasp on the first two components, but maybe we should strive to better understand what our customers (patients) value, how we are doing in meeting that need, and how to address it.

[i] Orentlicher, D. (2010). Cost containment and the patient protection and affordable care act. Scholarly Works. Retrieved from http://scholars.law.unlv.edu/facpub/1079

[ii] Okpala, P., & Campbell, R. (2018, September/October). Innovative leadership initiatives to reduce the cost of healthcare. Journal of Healthcare Management, 63(5), 313 – 322. Retrieved from www.ache.org/journals

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

[v]  Ibid.

[vi] Drucker, P. (2008). The five most important questions you will ever ask about your organization. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.


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