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The 3 must-ask questions to grow your service lines

3 must-ask questions to grow your service lines

Market position is a moving target, and COVID-19 made that target even more unpredictable. The patients who walked through the doors at hospitals, doctor’s offices and surgery centers pre-pandemic are different from the ones coming through them now.

“The rising acuity of patients coming back is just much more complex, much more fragile,” notes a recent Sg2 forecast of service line trends. “Fluctuating volumes and inconsistent surges have made planning really difficult.”

In this environment, hospital leaders must ask three key questions, which are listed below, with answers related to four service lines: cardiovascular, neurology, cancer and orthopedics.

1. What does the market look like today?

Hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers in New York state have a tremendous advantage when it comes to understanding their market position. They have access to the Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System, a core data set that allows facilities to compare their clinical, discharge and transfer statistics to local competitors.

Even so, hospitals in all states face certain realities. Take the shift from inpatient to outpatient care, for example. Sg2 predicts that cardiovascular IP volumes will rise 6% in the next 10 years while simultaneously noting “the death of hospitals as it pertains to orthopedic volumes, given the shift to outpatient.”

Others factors are more specific to a facility, its patients and community — and prompt even more questions. Does a hospital have a clear picture of its service area, population and demographics? Even basic questions like these put a hospital in a better position to understand service line demand and meet the needs of the community.

2. How are services trending?

Whether market share is slowing or growing depends on each service line and how it is trending — past, present and future.

As Sg2 reports, acuity will continue to drive cardiovascular service line growth: “The hospital isn’t going anywhere for this patient sector.”

Conversely, cancer is predominantly an outpatient service line. Even so, Sg2 notes that OP will be impacted by factors such as emerging cancer therapeutics (e.g., immunological treatments) and the degree to which subspecialty expertise is distributed and accessible throughout a region.

3. Is there an actual need?

This is the most important question. While startups may use “vanity metrics” to prove their service has a market, hospitals can’t afford to take that approach. It’s one thing to identify growth potential, it’s another to truly qualify it.

Service line needs may be obvious or more hidden.

“Sometimes there are these little pockets of things that are actually more acute than you would have thought,” notes Sg2 and with a neurology example: thrombectomies taking place in OP settings as part of post-ischemic stroke care. “It shows that people are pushing the boundaries.”

Ignoring a service line opportunity is the same as turning market share over to a competitor. Even when the need is clear, many other drivers impact the decision-making process: from internal incentives that influence service-setting patterns to state regulatory environments that determine whether ASCs grow rapidly or slowly.
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From exploratory questions to hard data

With more data and analytics, you can create a local market strategy designed to optimize service line mix, increase revenues and margins, and expand your footprint. Contact DataGen today about Sg2’s MarketEdge and how it can help you improve your position in the New York market.

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