OC Reilly Blog: Better Care, Lower Costs Not Mutually Exclusive

By Bill O’Connor, President and CEO, OC Reilly Inc.


The automatic fallback assumption, when it comes to lowering costs versus improving quality in any business application, is that the two ideas cannot possibly co-exist.

When you slash spending, so goes the thinking, quality suffers.  It’s an intractable yet inaccurate concept.  Even when it comes to health care.

In the Jan. 13, 2014, issue of Modern Healthcare magazine, Dr. Gary Kaplan, chairman and CEO of the Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle talks about his healthcare system’s progress in improving the quality of care for patients and achieving greater cost efficiencies at the same time.

“The most significant accomplishment in understanding that the pathway to improving quality and safety is the same pathway to lowering cost, and that involves relentlessly taking waste and unnecessary variability out of our processes,” Kaplan said.  “This creates a much higher quality, better patient experience.”

Taking a critical eye toward all aspects of supply chain management across healthcare systems has proven to be a key piece of successfully assembling and executing this kind of strategy.  Hidden duplication of time and effort, sloppy contract language, missed opportunities to streamline purchasing and even the ways in which employees perform their tasks – all can be cleaned up, tightened up, and brought up to a higher standard through supply chain analysis and institutional change.

The ancillary benefit of a financially healthier healthcare system, as Dr. Kaplan affirms, is that patient care can be enhanced as well.  Better patient experiences and a stronger bottom line are not mutually exclusive concepts.  The wise healthcare system administrators know this, and take the steps to make it happen for their organizations.