How a health care organization defines how to drive business growth Featured

8:00pm EDT August 26, 2010

As health care becomes an increasingly competitive business, it is critical for hospitals to create a niche and market it well. And while some hospitals struggle to distinguish themselves and capitalize on their unique identities, West Boca Medical Center in Boca Raton, Florida has been successful in this effort.

“People have a choice when it comes to health care, and they are going to go to the hospital that can provide service excellence,” says Mitch Feldman, CEO of West Boca Medical Center, a part of the Tenet Healthcare Corporation. “At West Boca, we stay competitive by channeling our resources to develop and integrate our service line strengths.”

Smart Business spoke to Feldman about West Boca Medical Center’s strategy for maintaining service line excellence and creating its unique niche in the local health care market.

How has West Boca Medical Center been able to keep its competitive advantage in the local health care delivery market?

First, we have made significant investments in our facilities and services that we provide to the community. Resources are dedicated to keep the hospital modern, clean and current. We are a community hospital, and we take great pride in creating a hospital environment that is pleasing to our patients and neighbors.

Second, we routinely consult with our doctors to ensure that we have current technology and equipment so they can do their best job in diagnosing and treating patients. For example, we have made a significant investment in surgical instrumentation. By adopting the technology and training our staff in new general, robotic, minimally invasive surgical techniques, we can offer patients an improved service that may allow them to have better treatment outcomes, a speedier recovery and a quicker return to functionality.

Third, we have developed and positioned specific hospital service lines within the broader portfolio of services offered by the hospital. We’ve been able to strategically develop interdisciplinary outpatient and inpatient programs to achieve competitive market share growth and system-wide collaboration. The combination of these investments keeps the community interested in our hospital and happy with the high level of quality health care service lines we provide.

Describe your process for determining expansion of service lines.

We reference an array of data sources to determine what conditions are affecting our local patient population. With an understanding of community health needs, we can then look internally to identify what our physicians and staff need to provide a new service or expand a current program, whether it’s a new technology, equipment, or more training.

Staff involvement is critical to identifying gaps in our current service lines and finding creative ways to fulfill those gaps. If our physicians have the expertise to provide the service and/or we can acquire new skills, technology, or equipment, then we have the foundation for putting together programs and access points for the community to get the care it needs.

How have you been able to achieve new business growth through the expansion of your service lines?

Palm Beach County is becoming more mature as the range of local services increases. As a community hospital, we are growing and expanding our service lines in innovative ways. Historically, higher-end care may have gone to other hospitals. Our goal is to develop and expand very specialized service lines to attract patients to our hospital and reduce outmigration of patients to other health care facilities. Engaging the local community in our hospital services benefits the hospital and the local health care economy.

For example, when a local hospital closed down its pediatric medical care services, we saw an opportunity to expand our pediatric service lines. We now offer a variety of inpatient and outpatient pediatric service lines, such as Pediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care Units, a Pediatric Emergency Room, a Pediatric Sleep Diagnostic Center, an Outpatient Pediatric Therapy program, and a General Inpatient Pediatric Unit.

What service lines do you think the hospital will need to focus on in the future to maintain its competitive advantage in the marketplace?

We will keep abreast of community health needs and adjust our service lines accordingly. At this point in time, we have an excellent reputation in women’s and children’s services. We are a leading provider of pediatric health care in the local community and we will strive to maintain this level of service. We will do this by staying informed of new issues in pediatrics and growing our already expansive list of women’s and children’s services. In sum, taking a strength and making it stronger is a technique we will continue to use to develop our service lines and provide quality services to our patients.

Mitch Feldman is the CEO of West Boca Medical Center. Reach him at mitch.feldman@tenethealth.com.