Ambulatory Strategy Accelerator Program Reveals Range of Success in Ambulatory Care

As care increasingly shifts out of the hospital, health systems’ goals for their ambulatory business also are shifting. No longer are innovator organizations content for these services to function strictly as feeders of an inpatient core; they expect ambulatory services to independently boost the bottom line. Achieving that goal, however, can be elusive. Success in the ambulatory arena is most directly tied to an organization’s ability to differentiate its business across multiple dimensions. That requires leadership teams not only to rethink ambulatory services’ role within the care continuum but to revise traditional approaches to the design and execution of care.

To identify and prioritize market opportunities, 19 organizations recently participated in the Ambulatory Strategy Accelerator program offered by Vizient, Sg2’s parent company. Sg2 faculty led the group through two in-depth components designed to advance participants’ strategic positioning:

  • A six-week course grounded in critical success factors in ambulatory service delivery, which included an in-depth self-assessment
  • A prioritization calculator, which captured quantitative and qualitative data to highlight opportunities to capture ambulatory service growth

Participating organizations were able to comprehensively assess the effectiveness of their current ambulatory services and pinpoint opportunities for improvement across three essential dimensions.
Illustration of three essential dimensions for ambulatory service delivery.

Leading Insights

This holistic view is essential insight for any organization working to identify next steps in ambulatory planning. The critical challenges that surfaced among accelerator participants offer clarity for other organizations about the complex work required to excel in this part of the care continuum.

Financial self-sufficiency

Participants focused on this goal recognized a need to carefully balance cost management efforts with initiatives designed to boost share capture. To achieve it, organizations aim to harness volume shifts while optimizing service distribution.

Organizational structure

Many accelerator participants also have found traditional department-oriented oversight, spanning IP and OP settings, has become ineffective as the range of ambulatory sites and essential capabilities multiply. New approaches will vary by organizational structure but could include using multidisciplinary OP leadership or oversight by each site of care.

Consumer focus

Organizations found substantial room for improvement in all key aspects of consumer focus—access, convenience and pricing. To make headway, participants report their systems are prioritizing basic capabilities, such as online scheduling and same-day access.

Pricing challenge

Pricing surfaced as the area of greatest opportunity for improvement, including the ability to offer competitive pricing, provide sufficient pricing detail (eg, out-of-pocket estimates) and triage patients to the lowest-cost service when appropriate. Efforts to address pricing will need to overcome the logistical challenges of finding and relaying needed information to consumers without undermining the financial health of these sites of care.

The Takeaway

Understanding the complex interplay of the many moving parts and options to address emerging demand can help organizations tailor up-to-date ambulatory strategies. That hard work is increasingly critical—and mandatory—as health systems shift to an ambulatory focus.
Learn more about Sg2’s Ambulatory Strategy Solution, and contact us for help with capturing procedure shifts to the outpatient setting.

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