Paging Dr. Interim: U.S. Healthcare Fix in the Boardroom

Everyone knows the U.S. healthcare delivery system is sick, and cost increases unsustainable. Difficult reforms are underway, piecemeal and painful.

Many experts have taken a swing at the U.S. healthcare behemoth. Who is powerful enough to take the problem on? Probably not government, probably not hospital groups, and probably not insurance companies, according to Ron Hammerle, an interim executive specializing in the healthcare field.

The solution to healthcare, Hammerle argues, involves large U.S. retailers, including those who might run the local supermarket. Still a minority viewpoint at this point, but Hammerle said it is rapidly catching on.

His company expects American retailers, the Walmarts and Krogers of the country, to step up with strategies. “We’re expecting big players from the outside” to become active in healthcare, “ringing out inefficiencies and bringing prices down,” he said.

Those corporate entities have the ability to integrate healthcare services in a tech-saavy, retail environment with a branch just around the corner.

That transition means opportunity for the interim executive community, particularly those within the healthcare vertical, according to Hammerle.

“I think a lot of new leadership in healthcare will come from outside the healthcare community,” Hammerle said. His firm, Health Resources Ltd., offers a band of executives from across the fields of healthcare, insurance and technology, is strategizing around those expected changes.

Hammerle also believes his firm’s experience with early stage companies (he has been the co-founder of several for-profit and not-for-profit healthcare companies), suits the environment of rapid change and development.

“Most retailers lack healthcare experience and most healthcare providers lack retail experience. That dual gap creates opportunities for interim executives and firms that have both,” Hammerle said.

Technology, in this model, will play a major role as community based points-of-care interact electronically with high profile hospital systems, like the Mayo Clinic, to diagnose and treat illnesses, he said.

Hammerle also said he expects more emphasis to be placed on trying to keep patients out of hospitals. He cited an American Hospital Association’s prediction of a significant consolidation among hospitals.

Suspect an infection is developing? Time to hit the supermarket. If the healthcare delivery evolves as Hammerle predicts, the doctor and the retail executives are ready to help.