Operational intelligence: the responsible business of healthcare

By Philips ∙ Grd 31, 2023 ∙ 3 min read

Article

Hospital operations

Optimization services

In the battle to transform healthcare, the poles arguing that healthcare should or should not be considered a business have, perhaps, missed a middle ground possibility. There is an opportunity for healthcare to operate as a responsible business that combines the best of both worlds: clinical expertise with operational excellence. The challenge, of course, is how to bring together these worlds in order to create modern healthcare systems that are both fit for purpose and purposeful. 

This article focuses on

  • In order to adopt new models of value-based care, healthcare is embracing ideas, concepts and thinking that may have originated in the business world. 
  • Partnerships with Philips can facilitate a strategic approach to managing technology. 
  • Some business-based concepts are innovating around the customer experience and embracing collaborative leadership and management styles. 

Responsible business in healthcare

Balancing the clinical with the commercial  

“Business and healthcare have long had an uneasy relationship, but a modern, innovative approach to healthcare transformation doesn’t have to be the ruthless commercialization of care,” says Dawn Bruce, Philips Services and Solutions Delivery Leader, Canada.   

According to Bruce, breaking down negative perceptions of business in healthcare and adopting new responsible business practices has the potential to positively transform blocked and stuck aspects of hospital operations. “In order to adapt or pivot to new models of value-based care, healthcare is slowly embracing ideas, concepts and thinking – many of which may have originated in the business world,” she says.  

What is responsible business?

Over the past 10 years, companies have made important changes to their corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies, and there has been a marked shift from the past, when CSR activities were unrelated to the company’s core business. This has led to the emergence of responsible businesses, which prioritize purpose over profit. The emergence of responsible business can then be seen as much an opportunity for healthcare transformation as digitization and new technologies. 

What to borrow from big business and where to start?

Bruce shares her advice on the ways healthcare facilities can adopt processes and practices from responsible businesses and partner to drive improvements without impacting the integrity of care. Here are some ways to begin: 

Start in operations, the control center of any hospital: Bruce recommends applying operational management principles. “The importance of operations wasn’t always recognized in business, let alone in healthcare, and yet operations management is key,” she says.  

Adopt a holistic, integrated approach fusing people, process and technology: Bruce and her team help healthcare systems apply and embed innovative operational management and improvement strategies. To help operational staff  get started, she recommends focusing on the integration of people, process and technology. 

Operational performance

A focus on people: Bruce recommends innovating around the customer experience and embracing collaborative leadership and management styles. She advises looking to hospitality as a guide on customer-centricity. And for leadership, she recommends exploring the emerging concept of servant leadership, a leadership style that inverts the norm.   

Adopt highly effective business processes: These include Lean Six Sigma to create more operationally intelligent health systems, as well as Agile methodology, systems thinking and design thinking. New skills development can focus on the development of empathy, radical collaboration and rapid prototyping, and these soft skills should be coupled with systems thinking capabilities. 

New skills development

Complement Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) with Objectives and Key Results (OKR): “We use both KPIs and OKRs as performance indicators, but in healthcare, we find it particularly useful to track OKRs, as they are more specific with quantifiable results,” she says. “Utilizing the two offers the opportunity for macro- and micro-operational visibility.”   

Adopt disruptive innovation: Bruce suggests that one of the most positive learnings healthcare can make from business is to use businesses’ own learnings from transformation and the innovative processes that facilitated it.   

Embrace technology: Bruce points out that buying the best isn’t always the best choice, and that Philips partnerships with hospitals has made it “possible to open up new ways of thinking about planning, purchasing and maintaining and puts in place a strategic approach to managing technology.”  

“Applying business learnings is essential if we’re to shift away from fee-for-volume to fee-for-service value models.” 

Dawn Bruce 

Philips Services and Solutions Delivery Leader, Canada 

A partnership with aligned priorities 

It’s clear that there is a lot that business can offer to healthcare, so long as the partners involved have their purpose and priorities aligned. Bruce sums it up: “We're all invested in making healthcare accessible to all and to do so, we need to share and apply best practice principles,” she says. "Applying business learnings is essential if we’re to shift away from fee-for-volume to fee-for-service value models.” 

Article

Operational intelligence: the responsible business of healthcare 

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