The Health Management Academy

From Disruptors to Care Delivery: The 3 Areas CSOs Are Eager to Address


Our Strategy Catalyst team recently convened a group of Leading Health System (LHS) chief strategy officers (CSOs) to discuss the most pressing topics that are top of mind.

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Here’s a snapshot of the conversation:

1.     New Sources of Revenue – Spotlight on Data Assets

“For an organization our size, how can we scale up and do that type of work? Who are our logical partners?”

Facing increased costs and revenue pressure (including hits to their investment portfolios), strategy leaders are spending a significant share of brain power on opportunities to bolster margins.

Identifying new sources of revenue is paramount. Specifically, how can the work at LHS innovation labs be commercialized in a timely manner, and how can these efforts form a more predictable source of revenue?

While sophistication of these innovation functions varies significantly from system to system, all LHS share a common opportunity: they’re awash in data. According to Strategy Catalyst, strategy leaders are interested in potentially monetizing these assets, but they acknowledge several hurdles, like privacy issues, challenges with aggregating and cleaning data, and weighing pros and cons of possible partnership opportunities.

2.     Digital Strategy and Consumerism – with a Heath Equity Lens

While digital transformation has been underway for some time, CSOs acknowledge that efforts must evolve more quickly as patient loyalty and retention become paramount. Digital front door investments have typically focused on patient access; but how should these tools be harnessed to ensure patient retention?

Strategy leaders tell Strategy Catalyst they are curious about the potential of CRM solutions, and whether consumer data can be seamlessly integrated with EMRs to create personalized patient experiences—at scale. What’s the experience of early adopters who have deployed CRM beyond marketing—even using data around patient preferences to design an optimal and personalized care pathway?  Will CRM capabilities become a key differentiator in the quest to engage and retain patients?

Of course, the digitization of the health care experience is not without drawbacks. CSOs note to the Strategy Catalyst team the issues of equity that are exacerbated by the existence of a digital divide. The fact is, not all populations have access to, or working knowledge of, the technology currently being deployed by health systems. How can LHS ensure they aren’t leaving those patients behind?

3.     Care Delivery Innovation – Reshaping Ambulatory Strategy

“What unique care models move away from a physician-centered point-of-view and instead focus on the premise that everyone should have the same quality of care?”

The pandemic has accelerated shifts in how providers deliver care, like surgical cases moving to ambulatory settings, and greater demand for behavioral health – particularly in virtual settings. These changes on their own require agility, and in the context of outside disruptors and severe provider shortages, they’re especially tricky to pull off successfully.

As care has migrated outside the four walls of the hospital, private equity has taken interest, adding further risk to LHS ambulatory strategy. Strategy Catalyst poses the following questions as imperative for CSO consideration: What is the future of PE within the ambulatory market, and what is the impact of PE interference? What is the impact on hospital-aligned physician groups?

The demand for behavioral health and rapid innovation of care models puts these services at the forefront for health system strategists. Instead of passively waiting for those patients to appear on the health system doorstep—often via the ED—how can providers intervene and care for patients before they reach that level of acuity? Which care models prioritize early outreach and prevention? Can primary care take on the demands of behavioral health via smart practice integration? What role should technology play, in particular, virtual care, in this era of provider shortages and long waiting lists for behavioral health services?

Strategy Catalyst conversations with CSOs acknowledge that underpinning these questions around care models is the recognition that health systems have left gaps in equitable care delivery. Social determinants of health not only play a role in patient access to virtual care services, but access to care in any form. How can provider organizations become more proactive in connecting with these patients and taking an active role in managing their care?