I just returned from giving a keynote address at the Annual Institute of the New Jersey and Metropolitan Philadelphia Chapters of the Healthcare Financial Management Association. Regular readers of this blog will not be surprised at the themes I covered (transparency, front-line driven process improvement, the virtuous cycle between reducing harm and financial efficiency), and I need not elaborate on them here.
Instead, I want to talk about the huge variety of vendors and other companies exhibiting at the meeting. If one were cynical, one could walk away understanding how health care and related expenses constitute 16 percent of the nation’s GDP. But, if you look beyond that, you will see many firms that are involved in offering services designed to reduce the cost of health care and make it more effective. Let me mention two I happened to visit. (I have no financial interest in either.)
The first was a company called Avery Telehealth, based in Scottsdale, Arizona. This firm is offering a readmissions avoidance program for it clients, promising a 30% reduction in readmission rates for congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, and the like. I was impressed with the no-nonsense approach employed. It is heavy on personal involvement from care transition social workers, daily contacts from call center nurses, and using telecommunications to connect residence-based equipment to monitor patients' daily status and vital signs.
In a different category, JBH Advisory Group from New York City offers hospitals help in refining their food and nutrition services programs. The company views these services from a retail/restaurant operations perspective rather than an institutional health care framework. JBH consultants have assisted in over 1000 hospitals in the last 18 months, realizing a reduction in total food and nutrition services costs from 13 to 30 percent, averaging 26%.
This is just a very small sample, but I was pleased by a lot of what I saw. On a humorous note, I include a picture of the give-aways of one bank at the trade show. They clearly did not expect many doctors to attend this meeting, as the use of fat-and-happy-MD stress balls in the hands of finance folks might be misconstrued!