Amita Health is Restructuring with a Focus on Outpatient, Preventative, and Virtual Health

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When any business goes through a merger, it presents a great opportunity to step back and look at the organization as a whole and see if there exists a better way of doing things.

A change in the way a business operates presents a huge challenge for human resources departments, as they must ensure employees across the organizational footprint know exactly what is expected of them and are fully trained and versed in their new roles. When managing change such as this, there will often be the unfortunate consequence of redundancies to deal with - never pleasant, but often unavoidable.

This is exactly the challenge Illinois-based healthcare provider Amita Health was faced with after completing a recent merger with Presence Health. A new beginning meant a fresh perspective.

Amita Health

The first challenge facing the post-merger Amita Health concerns the two sites it now operates at the Saint Mary and Saint Elizabeth Medical Centers, which are just three blocks apart at the border of Ukrainian Village and Wicker Park in Chicago.

With many healthcare operations downsizing and focusing more on outpatient care, it's difficult for Amita Health to justify the two sites - with a combined 500 beds - existing so close together. As such, Amita Health is giving careful consideration to bringing the two under one roof and reorganizing the staff to facilitate a more complete care facility. The plan is to move the services at Saint Elizabeth over to Saint Mary, which is focused on cardiology and emergency care.

However, merging these two locations is not the only shake-up of operations Amita Health is planning.

"In the six months that followed Ascension's acquisition of Presence, a lot of time went into defining the leadership structure and eliminating redundancies in areas like human resources and finance," reports Modern Healthcare. "With the focus now on where the organization is headed, [President and CEO, Mark Frey] has realized his leadership team is 'a little too thin.' He says he's looking to add leaders who bring forward-thinking, nonhospital perspectives in areas like business transformation and ambulatory care."

Outpatient, Preventative, and Virtual Health

Today, more and more people are seeking ever more affordable and convenient ways to access products and services, with healthcare being far from an exception to this trend. Amita Health is more than aware of this pattern and is restructuring in the wake of the merger to accommodate it.

Associate Professor of Strategy and Director of Healthcare at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, Craig Garthwaite, said the move would certainly align with industry trends. "The number of hospital beds per capita has been decreasing for at least 10 years. Hospitals in Chicago and other markets have closed entire wings as people increasingly seek care in more affordable outpatient settings."

Virtual health is a relatively new sector of healthcare which allows patients to use digital technology to access medical services - often without leaving the comfort of their own homes. Virtual health originally started as a way for people in isolated regions to access healthcare, but it's now finding popularity as a primary way of getting medical assistance.

People can use smartphones to contact doctors, even providing photos of their symptoms, and receive a remote diagnosis. They can have prescriptions delivered either to their app, or to their local pharmacy.

From a human resource perspective, the benefits of virtual healthcare solutions are clear. With remote appointments, you can do a lot more with a smaller staff and with less infrastructure. Doctors can see more people in less time, freeing them up to attend to other more critical patients.

Final Thoughts

Managing large scale organizational change will always be a challenge for human resources departments, especially when it comes to complete overhauls of operations, such as with virtual care and other outpatient services. However, effective change management can lead to a stronger, more effective, and more efficient, healthcare provider.

"Six months after absorbing Presence Health, Amita Health is poised for even more change," said CEO of Amita Health, Mark Frey. "The historically hospital-centric system is turning its attention toward preventive, outpatient and virtual care. Hospitals will still be amazing workshops where we do unbelievable things, but, for the vast majority of patients, the focus has got to be on keeping you out of our hospitals."

Change management is set to be a hot topic at HR Healthcare 2019, taking place in June at the Hyatt Regency Austin, TX.

Download the agenda today for more information and insights.

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