In the healthcare industry, ambulatory care is hot. Health plans are encouraging patients to seek non-acute services, health systems are beefing up outpatient staff and offerings, while consumers themselves are more savvy shoppers in terms of where they get the most bang for their healthcare bucks.
It’s a seismic market shift, believes Witt/Kieffer consultant Jason Petros, writing on the Executive Insight website recently. “Ambulatory care can no longer be thought of as simply a subsidiary of the inpatient enterprise,” he notes. “It has evolved into a business that, for more and more organizations, is on par with the hospital.”
“As ambulatory services proliferate, organizations require more executives to oversee operations,” he adds. One of those executives is the Chief Ambulatory Officer (or in some cases Chief Ambulatory Administrative Officer or Vice President of Ambulatory Services). While this isn’t necessarily a new title, it is an increasingly important and recognizable one. These leaders’ traditional focus has been on operational improvement and cost containment, Petros says, under the authority of the Chief Operating Officer. Today, Chief Ambulatory Officers may have autonomy over a wide range of services and facilities, and can be seen as “CEOs of their own enterprises.”
Petros wraps up the article with a list of requirements that organizations often cite in recruiting these executives. Among them:
- a commitment to patient-centered care and in-depth understanding of today’s marketplace;
- an ability to analyze and leverage data for strategic purposes;
- skill in overseeing quality and patient experience across disparate facilities.
In many networks today, ambulatory care revenue is exceeding half of all business, Petros says. Can the Chief Ambulatory Officer do anything but continue to grow in significance?
By Paul Thomas, Strategic Communications Leader