Banner Health Network (BHN) ranks among the top largest not-for-profit hospital networks in the US. The system operates 29 facilities – under full ownership and leasehold – providing a range of services, including hospice care, family clinics, and nursing registries, among others (Banner Health Care, 2013). It also offers home-based social services and health education through a network of clinics, labs, hospitals, senior centers, academic institutions, and private insurers.
Its head office is in Arizona but it has operations in six other states, namely, Alaska, California, Wyoming, Nevada, Colorado, and Nebraska (Banner Health Care, 2013). This paper assesses BHN’s readiness to address the health care needs of the citizens and its strategic plan for network growth, nurse staffing, resource management, and patient satisfaction. A comparison of this system with Singapore Airlines will also be provided.
Readiness to Address Health Care Needs
BHN has adopted various clinical practices and programs to prepare for population health needs in the next decade. With the rising demand for quality care, BHN has identified three priority areas: patient safety, data-driven care, and patient-centered care (Banner Health, 2013). Through its Clinical Consensus Groups (CCGs), the network has gradually moved its facilities to evidence-based practice.
The system’s CCGs (17 in number) comprise multidisciplinary teams of medical specialists who investigate emerging issues and recommend clinical process improvements (Banner Health, 2013). BHN also has six Teams for Rapid Innovation and Design (TRIaDs) spearheading quality initiatives in women’s health, critical care, and perioperative services, among other areas (Banner Health, 2013). It has over 30 discipline teams dedicated to the standardization of care, technology, and workflow.
Providing quality healthcare that meets the complex needs of patients requires health technology. BHN has been successful in implementing e-health to promote patient safety and clinical efficiency. It has rolled out comprehensive electronic medical records (EMR) and computerized physician order entry (CPOE) across its facilities to ensure safe patient care delivery at the clinics and home. It has also adopted integrated clinical applications to meet meaningful use requirements for providers. Over 20 BHN hospitals have attained HIMSS Analytics Stage 7 (O’Hanlon, 2017). BHN has adopted the Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) model dubbed the iCare program to improve patient outcomes.
This team-based approach to care delivery ensures continuous care across clinical settings, increases access, and lowers per capita healthcare costs (Banner Health, 2013). To address funding issues, BHN offers a medical screening-only program that links patients with insurers after a diagnosis.
Since its formation from the merger of Samaritan Health System and Lutheran Health System in 1999, BHN has expanded its locations through acquisition and strategic alliances (O’Hanlon, 2017). It has grown its network to 29 hospitals, 1400 providers (Banner Medical Group), and 800 physicians (Banner University Medical Group) across seven states (O’Hanlon, 2017). It expands through opening up specialty clinics for cardiac, pediatric, and behavioral health care, collaboration with oncology centers (Anderson Cancer Center), launching outpatient surgery, and medical education. In 2015, BHN acquired the University of Arizona Health Network further expanding its presence in key territories. The system has also increased its range of medical services to include specialty care.
BHN has focused on improving nurse-patient ratios in its clinics and facilities to achieve quality patient care. It recognizes nurses as critical players in safe patient care and clinical excellence. By providing a breadth of career options ranging from RNs to registry nurses, BHN can attract and retain qualified staff to maintain lower nurse-patient ratios of between 1:2 and 1:3 in intensive care units (O’Hanlon, 2017). E-health has reduced hospitalization rates, resulting in better staffing proportions. The network provides training resources and organizes academic conferences to update nurses on clinical developments. Its hiring practices are geared towards maintaining workforce diversity.
BHN is a non-profit organization. Its primary revenue generation streams include shared savings, partnership agreements with payers, and bundled payments (Faynboym, 2015). Thus, the rationale for expanding its membership – facilities and clinics – is to grow earnings. The revenue is spent on quality improvement programs and staff compensation. Expense reduction involves decreasing unit costs and utilization, i.e., length of hospital stay. Care delivery efficiency is achieved through streamlined workflow and process automation (Faynboym, 2015). BHN decreases service utilization through evidence-based medicine, coordinated care, and fraud mitigation, resulting in more efficient use of resources.
BHN uses an enhanced PCMH model to foster patient engagement and improve outcomes. According to Banner Health Care (2013), care coordination involves an ambulatory case manager who helps a patient with self-care, organizes follow-ups, determines healthcare needs, and delivers health education based on health literacy and cultural background considerations. BHM’s delivery system is associated with individualized care, follow-ups, lower care costs, and safety, which result in higher patient satisfaction scores. Further, lower nurse-patient ratios improve bedside care.
Comparison with Singapore Airlines
Both BHN and Singapore Airlines focus on service excellence as a competitive strategy in their respective industries. The hiring practices used by the airline are anchored in the decision to offer excellent in-flight service. It recruits a skilled, experienced, and youthful crew in a competitive process to work as flight stewards who are responsive to the needs of travelers. Similarly, BHN attracts competent specialists, clinicians, and nurses to drive its quality healthcare delivery efforts. The two organizations are also committed to maintaining workforce diversity to benefit from different ideas and perspectives.
The institutions provide career growth opportunities to staff. Singapore Airlines’ training program includes formal on-going training, continued development, and cyclical evaluation. In contrast, BHN provides career options in research, clinical practice, and leadership for nurses but does not do performance appraisals. The two organizations’ value propositions feature service efficiency considerations. The airline’s in-flight slot machines have been associated with customer dissatisfaction, additional costs, and potential for injury. In contrast, BHN’s CPOE and EMR have improved patient safety and post-discharge outcomes.
Cultural Issues Influencing the Practices
BHN’s culture of patient safety and policies geared towards innovation influence the growth of its network, staffing, and resource management decisions. The network is reputed for its successful execution of evidence-based practice (EBP) across its facilities (Banner Health, 2013). It uses a three-step process to implement EBP. The system first defines a practice area that requires improvement. Subsequently, an appropriate process design is developed followed by its implementation through a quality project. The organization’s Care Management Council leads and monitors various clinical teams and reviewing policies related to resource allocation, staffing requirements, network growth, and patient engagement programs.
Presently, BHN is recognized as a major player in the healthcare industry in the U.S. Through a strong focus on clinical quality and excellence, innovation, and technology, the network has ensured that it is well prepared to address emerging health issues in the country. Its strategy is grounded in evidence-based practice to improve patient safety outcomes.
Banner Health. (2013). New territory: The journey continues. Phoenix, AZ: Banner Health.
Faynboym, N. (2015). Population health management: Banner health network’s perspective. Phoenix, AZ: Banner Health.
O’Hanlon, J. (2017). Banner health: Delivering wellness to the west. Web.