US Healthcare System
A $4 billion dollar healthcare system in the southern US was coping with many uncertainties — financing dilemmas, pace of technological change, empowered patients, new social trends in healthcare, shifting demographics, etc.— in many different markets (large and small) simultaneously. To manage these uncertainties, the senior leadership team felt that a longer view was necessary, especially since they faced key strategic decisions about new medical technologies, new medical approaches, the (re)building and acquiring of new hospitals, and the recruitment of talent.
Sponsored by the CEO, we led a two-year scenario planning process to explore the future of the hospital in the US within the next ten years. A diverse group of participants were recruited to be on this “Futures Task Force” including senior management, experts, internal and external stakeholders.
The outcomes informed the system’s mission, strategic direction, and a number of specific capital expenditures and investments. A key “ah-hah” was that its’ nonprofit business model was not viable, regardless of what future emerged— something that was hard to accept and see in the short-term. This prompted another insight: their mission was more effectively and easily attained if they expanded internationally to where the healthcare needs were the strongest and where the barriers to innovation were lower. Since then, the system has acquired a number of facilities, both acute and non-acute, outside of the US and innovated new delivery models. This project also gave the client a reputation for being an innovative thought leader within the healthcare industry. The Wall Street Journal covered an interesting aspect of this process: that is, the use of improv theatre to dramatize and visualize the scenarios and their implications as a way to engage the top 100 executives of the hospital system. Lastly, a second “Futures Task Force” was launched in 2008 to build off of this work.
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