Introduction: Ability to Adapt Key to Navigating Change in Healthcare

Amy Beiter, MD | EvergreenHealth CEO

When the Greek philosopher Heraclitus introduced the concept of constant change, I know he wasn’t talking about reimbursements, EMRs, or healthcare technology—but he certainly could have been.

Over time, it has become clear to me that people and organizations that recognize the inevitability of change fare better, whether by adapting to changing regulations, shifting from fee-based to value-based care, or transforming organizational culture to attract and retain top talent.

This forward-thinking philosophy to prepare for the future, and open up to new ways of operating, is among the reasons I was recently attracted to join EvergreenHealth as its CEO. Over its 47-year history, our health system has continually demonstrated its willingness to embrace change, while keeping patients, providers, and the community at the center of every decision.

Two examples demonstrate this commitment.

First, we are all aware of the recent significant consolidation in healthcare. In some cases, when health systems merge it makes great sense. In others, though, mergers can create issues stemming from duplicative services and difficulties with system integration, leading to closures that force patients to travel further for care.

EvergreenHealth has approached the issue by creating affiliations and strategic alliances—like our partnerships with the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and Overlake Medical Center and Clinics—that enable our organization to remain independent while partnering with like-minded groups, leveraging one another’s strengths without the growing pains mergers can create.

The second example is EvergreenHealth’s leadership in forming clinically integrated networks, a model that enables independent providers and hospital-employed physicians to partner to achieve common goals and, ultimately, to improve population health. This leadership started with our creation of the region’s first clinically integrated network, EvergreenHealth Partners, and we’ve built upon it ever since. Most recently we formed the Eastside Health Network, our new clinically integrated network in partnership with Overlake Medical Center and Clinics and hundreds of independent providers.

Today, more than half of the providers in Eastside Health Network are independent providers—a diversity we believe is critical to the success of the network. It covers nearly 50,000 community members, offering a more coordinated experience and better outcomes for patients, along with a system for providers to develop and implement evidence-based, data-driven clinical initiatives to increase efficiency and reduce costs. And all of this is achieved while also reducing the administrative burden of independent practices, to help support their long-term viability through initiatives such as medical-malpractice cost improvements and the creation of medical benefit insurance options for employees. 

We cannot stop the pace of change; we simply must adapt. This means pursuing alternative ways to grow through strategic partnerships and leading the region in clinical integration with independent providers to make navigating the changing business of healthcare possible.