Skip to main content

Your Cathedral Has Been Leveled. Now What?

As 347-bed St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Joplin, MO begins to contemplate rebuilding, many issues come to the fore.  I’m sure there will be no shortage of advice-giving pundits and consultants. One hopes that out of that miasma emerges a clear-eyed vision of hospital demand going forward.

Parent organization Sisters of Mercy Health System, Chesterfield, MO, has vowed to rebuild with an array of services. Lynn Britton, president and CEO of Sisters of Mercy Health System calls it “…a wonderful opportunity to re-imagine” health care in Joplin.

A once-in-an-executive’s-lifetime opportunity, really.

But what is that talking? Pride? The “Show Me” state’s resilience above all? Steadfast loyalty to employees and physicians?  All necessary and, for now, a healthy tonic for a shocked community.

But rebuild what? Where?

The givens:
  • rebuilding requires capital.  Lots of capital, 
  • the possibility that the ‘new’ Joplin will have fewer residents, and 
  • lower overall demand for healthcare (as did post-Katrina New Orleans) and, finally, 
  • the fact that, pre-May 22, Joplin was a two-hospital town with both facilities reporting mixed-to-poor financial results.

1. Rebuild in place. Replace what was lost. “Let’s rebuild St. John’s, only bigger and better.”

2. Build a new ‘hospital of the future’, whatever that means. “Let’s design and build a less-costly St. John’s, safer, networked, wired, efficient and patient-pleasing.”

3. Effect a merger with cross-town competitor Freeman Hospital. St. John’s now has a chance to become whatever the new organization needs it to be. “Let’s create one SUCCESSFUL hospital in Joplin and build additional capacity only when/where necessary to deliver services to a now-smaller town.”

4. Construct an entirely new model of health care delivery. "We need to create a joint-venture organization. St. John’s value-add is building a distributed care network. Freeman’s value-add is as the inpatient chassis."

5. OK, I’ve supplied a few ideas, now it’s YOUR turn. It is a wonderful opportunity to re-imagine health care in Joplin. What advice would you offer?

Think outside the walls, beyond the edifice. Way beyond.

Think prevention and wellness. Think engagement and the tools necessary for behavior change.

Think new networks and technologies. Think an information-rich health ecosystem.

Most of all, THINK!

Follow me on Twitter @whatifwhynot


Popular posts from this blog

Being Disrupted Ain't Fun. Deal With It.

Articles about disrupting healthcare, particularly those analogizing, say, Tesla's example with healthcare's current state, are frequently met with a chorus of (paraphrasing here) "Irrelevant! Cars are easy, healthcare is hard." You know, patients and doctors as examples of "information asymmetry" and all that. Well, let me ask you this: assuming you drive a car with a traditional internal combustion engine, how much do you know about the metallurgy in your car's engine block? I'll bet the answer is: virtually nothing. In fact it's probably less than you know about your own body's GI tract. Yet somehow, every day, us (allegedly) ignorant people buy and drive cars without help from a cadre of experts. Most of us do so and live happily ever after (at least until the warranty expires. Warranties...another thing healthcare could learn from Tesla.) Now, us free range dummies - impatient with information asymmetry - are storming healthcar…

Becoming Consumer Friendly In Five Easy Steps...Or Not

An article at offers hospitals 5 steps to becoming more consumer friendly.

If you still think there's a secret sauce to your hospital becoming more "consumer friendly," these 5 steps are as good a place to start as any.  Unfortunately, it's a little like that old Steve Martin comedy bit where he says he'll teach you how to be rich. The first step is to go find a million dollars.

Step 1 from the article is realizing that "...a Medicare beneficiary with chronic conditions is different from a young mom who brings her kids in for an annual check-up." This is market segmentation for beginners, and, yes, one size decidedly does not fit all. I'm sure your marketing team's been saying this for a while.

Steps 2-5: have a strategy, metrics, a champion and resources. OK. Hard to argue with any of those.

But those things, alone or together, won't overcome culture. They're important components to be sure, but insufficient without a …

Behind Every Resume Is A Potential Customer...and Karma.

I recently heard from an executive colleague who, thanks to a merger, found herself looking for her next opportunity. Her story, probably depressingly familiar to many of you, was all about the big black hole of rudeness and non-responsiveness that so often sums up employers' attitudes toward candidates.

This colleague, thinking she'd see the healthcare world from a new vantage point, pursued opportunities with consultants, IT vendors, architects and other suppliers who, far from appreciating her solid resume, were like the 3 Stooges of clueless.

So back to a senior health system role she went, WHERE SHE NOW INITIATES AND MANAGES RFPs FOR SOME OF THE VERY SAME COMPANIES who wouldn't talk to her as a candidate, but profess their LOVE for her now that she's got money to spend on their services.

Not gonna happen. Any guesses who's off the RFP list?

I smiled when I heard her story, imagining the BusDev people working hard to grow the revenue pipeline, all the while b…