The Purpose of the Health Care Organization

As we welcome the 2020s, it is an important time to revisit the purpose of the health care organization and its mission for serving the community.

What is the mission?

In general terms, a health system exists to perform the full spectrum of care: primary and specialty care, acute care, rehabilitation or step-down care, preventative medicine, disease management, and occasionally teaching to maximize care to the community they serve.  Systems tailor themselves – restrict their scope – to local conditions and cyclic management programs. They depend upon payment plans to fund operations, and they succeed or fail based on their depth of leadership, systems and processes for providing care appropriate for their patient population.

In 2020 health care systems will face an ever-changing patient population in age, health, and behavior. The question becomes how to organize to optimize wellness and to continually improve the quality of care delivered despite the random variations caused by the changing mix of people and payers.

The decisions for creating a dynamic mission in 2020 are straightforward:

  • determine the scope of care (what’s important, not the entire spectrum),
  • decide on coverage (geographic footprint),
  • identify the payer mix and the resulting projections for income to fund the scope and coverage, and
  • decide who’s in (patients and plan members – they’re different) and how to engage them.
  • determine the technical and business resources toward supporting the mission

As an example, Patient engagement is communications, education, ease of access, rapid response, and satisfaction – not the simplistic patient portal. Population health management is not simple data reporting, but data analytics and clinical interventions to support the community needs. The combination of trained staff, inspired leadership, competent technology and appropriately funded resources will drive a successful mission.

The mission is, in a word, “wellness.” To keep improving patient health and outcomes in a seemingly random world.