Use The Force: 4 Ways to Improve Orthopedic Service Lines

November 3, 2015
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It would be hard to argue that there’s a more-anticipated movie in 2015 than “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.” After a somewhat disappointing reboot of the prequel trilogy back in 1999, Star Wars enthusiasts are ready to give the franchise another chance. When it opens in December, there’s little doubt that the movie will become an instant box office hit.

It would be hard to argue that there’s a more-anticipated movie in 2015 than “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.” After a somewhat disappointing reboot of the prequel trilogy back in 1999, Star Wars enthusiasts are ready to give the franchise another chance. When it opens in December, there’s little doubt that the movie will become an instant box office hit.

While you may have a hard time getting patients to camp out weeks in advance to be first in line for your orthopedic services, there are still lessons that can be learned here in creating an orthopedic center of excellence. Use these four tips from Star Wars to stay away from the “dark side” and champion an orthopedic service line that will improve both program value and patient outcomes.

1. Recruit the right people
When die-hard Star Wars fans heard that Disney had purchased the rights to the franchise, many gave up on the idea of successful new movies. But when it was announced that J.J. Abrams had signed on to direct “The Force Awakens,” attitudes changed. After directing recent successful Star Trek remakes, Abrams was collectively recognized as the right man for the job when it came to rebooting Star Wars for a new generation.

In the same way, it’s important to recruit the right people for your orthopedic service line. Who will be the face of your organization? Surgeon leadership can bring a certain amount of “star power” among the local community, so be selective in who you choose to lead your line. McKinsey & Company, a management consulting firm, additionally reported that giving staff incentives to own the process is typically necessary to align your physicians’ interests with those of the hospital.

2. Eliminate variation
How do you think Star Wars enthusiasts would react if “The Force Awakens” starred three new actors in the roles of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia? Or if the Millennium Falcon was replaced with a different star ship? When fans flock to see the new movie in December, they’ll appreciate the continuity of the series. Unexpected changes and unmet expectations would create a jarring, disjointed viewing experience.

Similarly, it’s critically important to eliminate variation in your orthopedic patient experience. Patients will be confused and likely angry if different members of your team give them conflicting instructions or don’t meet the expectations that they were given. And a lack of standardization will have a negative effect on your bottom line as well. According to Hospitals and Health Networks, some estimates report that unnecessary variation can account for as much as 30 percent of health care spending. Eliminating variation will consequently help you to provide better value-based care to your patients.

3. Use feedback wisely
The original trilogy was an enormous cinematic success. The prequel trilogy? Well, it was a bit of a mixed bag. While George Lucas did some things well, there are were many components of the three episodes that fans very much disliked. Luckily for the producers of the newest movie, all of these audience responses were well tracked, giving the studio a clear picture of what has worked and not worked in the past.

Tracking progress and using feedback is also a critical component of the success of your orthopedic center of excellence. According to HealthLeaders Media, data is important for identifying problems in your service line. The information can help you to better understand costs, clinical outcomes and utilization. Make sure that you’re monitoring and following up on this data consistently to improve your patient care.

4. Build loyalty
Ultimately, why will “The Force Awakens” undoubtedly be a box office hit? Because the franchise has built a loyal fan base that has stood by the Star Wars galaxy through disasters like the character of Jar Jar Binks and the stiff acting of Hayden Christensen.

If you can deliver a stellar patient experience, patients will return for future procedures, as well as recommend their friends. By developing a brand that’s recognized by its commitment to quality patient care, you will earn loyal patients who will stand by you, even through rough patches. Additionally, McKinsey & Company reported that by focusing on the long-term health of your patients rather than a single treatment or procedure, you can increase the success of your service line by increasing economic value and improving the patient outcomes of your facility.

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