Friday, March 4, 2011

What's the ROI on Collaborating with Competitors?

What's the ROI (Return on Investment) for competing? How many dollars do we waste on competing? Sure, we all know we live in a competitive world. We do it in our personal lives and certainly do it in the healthcare arena. Could we all get a greater ROI and deliver better care through collaboration?

I was having breakfast with a friend and local hospital competitor and this very discussion came up. There are 23 hospital competitors in the KC region alone. During the breakfast it was evident that we had a good sense of each others strategies and vision for the future. But what is the cost to compete and how much truly brings value back to the "winning" organization? I know of many companies who complete. Some even compete against themselves in a system (and not in a friendly competitive way) - a business philosophy I never understood unless an organization could show they are tuly better overall because of the internal undermining!

Over the next 10 years, hospitals will be hit by $155 Billion. According to a recent article in The NY Times, "For their part, the hospitals agreed to help defray the costs of the legislation by agreeing to contribute $155 billion over 10 years, largely by accepting lower payments under the Medicare program for older Americans."

Well, how are we going to make this happen without doing things much differently than we do today - it will not be a quick fix or just one thing we will do differently. It will involve truly understanding our mission and purpose, assessing our our core business strengths, key strategies and overall priorities. I do think a lot will come from staying focused and disciplined on this assessment and implementation of strategies.

Some markets are doing this better than others and we could certainly learn from them. Check out Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality as one example.

How they Advance the WCHQ Mission:
WCHQ members and stakeholders join together to measure the quality and affordability of healthcare services in Wisconsin. We publicly report these measurement results through our online
Performance & Progress Report. We see performance measurement and public reporting as vital, dual mechanisms for promoting greater transparency, improvement, efficiency and equity within healthcare.

Is it naive to think we could work more collaboratively with our competitors, at least on some programs? Is that the future? So many people may shy way from those conversations instead of addressing what really concerns will "steal my business away from me." and if that is the key fear, then put in on the table and address what will happen with the collaboration if that concern becomes a reality.

I look forward to hearing ways you work collaboratively with your competitors.

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