Indexed on: 03 May '11Published on: 03 May '11Published in: Operations Management Research
Focus in healthcare has been heralded as the next frontier in improving its efficiency and efficacy (Herzlinger 2004). Focus takes several different forms, ranging from standalone specialty centers to a hospital that places a strategic emphasis on a clinical area. We adopt this latter perspective and define focus as a disproportionate emphasis on a particular clinical area in a hospital. We use secondary data from hospitals providing cardiology care in New York State to examine the relationship between focus and performance. We develop two measures of focus. Proportional focus is defined to be the proportion of cases treated in a particular clinical specialty. Expertise focus is defined to be specific evidence that a hospital has taken action to build expertise in treating diseases in that specialty. We operationalize hospital performance along cost and quality dimensions, and we use hierarchical regression to examine the impact of focus on performance. Our results indicate that proportional focus, but not expertise focus, is associated with better cost performance. Quality performance, on the other hand, was associated only with the interaction between proportional focus and expertise focus, which means that only hospitals exhibiting higher levels of both proportional and expertise focus achieve better quality performance. These findings support the notion that not only is focus important in healthcare, but also that researchers and practitioners need to recognize that relationships are contingent on the performance and focus measures used and thus, findings may not be generalizable from one metric to another.