Down the Road


“Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises.” – Demosthenes



Obliquity, Well-being and Good Business

For profit or non-profit, isn’t the ultimate goals of a healthcare provider to do its best to improve the human condition of the community they reside in? If it isn’t they don’t deserve to be in business and should give way to another that will. But aside from the altruistic motives – doesn’t it make sense for a provider to act like this for pure financial reasons also.

Several years ago, when the iconic Jack Welsh was CEO of General Electric, he was asked by a reporter about his future plans to increase revenue and profitability after a string of very lucrative quarters. His curt response surprised the reporter: “I don’t concern myself with revenue nor profit. My primary objective is to be the most innovative company in each of the sectors we operate. If we do that, the money will more than take care of itself.” 

Welsh’s response is a textbook case of the concept of obliquity. Obliquity is defined as “complex problems are best solved using indirect methods.” Such should also be business strategy of an evolved healthcare provider. By focusing on the health and well-being of the populace in a provider’s market – the provider will indirectly affect its financial bottom line in a positive way. Aside from just community marketing goodwill, I need not go into the multitude of internal financial reasons why this would be the case.

Among the ways the  Community Healthcare Concierge Initiative contributes to not only a provider like Billings Clinic, but also the overall community are:

  • Breaking down of silos dividing the community by uniting it under a common goal – the well-being of the populace, transcending polarizing politics and ideology.
  • The CHcC Initiative is the connector for the community that brings the small business and non-profit ecosystem together in an integrated approach to community well-being creating serendipitous relationship that can result in new civic and economic opportunities.
  • The CHcC Initiative can also be instrumental in creating community engagement campaigns (i.e farmers markets, clean-up efforts, etc.) that further the well-being of the market area. Think of Billings Clinic as a well-being innovation hub experimenting with new concepts in making people healthy.
  • And most of all – enhance the overall well-being of the communities Billings Clinic serves by empowering not only members but also by extension the member stakeholders.

Imagine the top talent attraction Billings Clinic would be being the genesis of such a progressive health and well-being movement. It’s innovative working environment and mission would gain publicity nationwide – and professional recruiting efforts would benefit accordingly. Billing Clinic would be known as an innovation hub of avant guard well-being ideas collaborated on by the “coolest” people in the healthcare industry. Being a former headhunter I would be salivating at the opportunity to recruit for a firm like this.


Looking Beyond the Curve

A focus on well-being and Member engagement will also enable Billings Clinic to transition into the “doctor’s office” and health provider of the future.

Think: library-coffeehouse. That reception area could be redesigned and turned into a place where elite health information is free-flowing along with a few choice and, of course, healthy libations. Think more Apple Store and providers carrying iPad than traditional doctor’s office with sterile white walls. Or the space might be used to host live, in-person “chat rooms” for people with the same chronic disease or lunch hour “work the kinks out” exercise sessions for office workers with lower back pain.

We’re moving from a health care system that pays providers a fee for service (encouraging volume of services) to one that rewards good outcomes and value. Those (doctors, hospitals, health care systems) that keep patients well and motivate them to stay healthy are healthcare’s new winners.They must get into the business of managing people’s health, not their disease. They have to work at the “top of their license” (face time with patients reserved for services that only a doctor can provide). And they have to figure out how to “see” patients in new and different ways. (Fast Company)

This type of transition is especially important with change and uncertainty looming on the horizon – as well as the inevitable reductions in compensation from insurance companies and federal and state governments. Providers will have to act more like the Apples and Amazons of the world and less like they do now. More crucial than ever will be the connection to their Members and the empowerment they give them to be engaged and an active part of the solution rather than just passive spectators. This is a way Billings Clinic can to transition into a full membership based business model (i.e. Sanford Health, Kaiser Permanente) while reaping the benefits of a more healthy population. This can happen while also offering a more robust comprehensive benefit package that affects the not only their Membership base … but the community as a whole.

Montana’s healthcare industry is in a precarious situation. Regulatory upheaval, combined with technological advances, especially on the patient side – as well as demographic changes facing Montana are creating the perfect storm. Where this change will take us … I don’t think anyone truly knows. But what I do know is sitting back and waiting to see what happens is a prescription for financial and social disaster.

“The future is not some place we are going, but one we are creating.” – John H Schaar

I ask you to join me in doing the creating. Considering my current relationship with you – I would love for Billings Clinic to be the provider to anchor and partner with in an unprecedented wave of health and well-being in Montana … at the time it needs it most.

Clay Forsberg