In July 2023, the healthcare landscape was shaken when the private-equity-backed provider group, American Physician Partners (APP), unexpectedly ceased operations immediately and without warning, challenging health systems to adapt quickly to avoid service disruptions.
This situation is a stark example of a concerning trend in healthcare: prioritizing short-term gains over the community's long-term needs. This short-termism, often driven by private equity, can often result in quick financial returns but can sacrifice the quality of patient care and the well-being of healthcare providers.
An antithesis to this approach, embodying what Simon Sinek calls the "infinite mindset," favors long-term impact over immediate profits. As CEO of the multispecialty physician Partnership, I stand behind Vituity’s just cause - improving lives continuously and sustainably – not for a quarter or fiscal year, but forever! A great recent example of Vituity’s commitment to healthcare stability and patient-centric care is rapidly scaling operations to take on eight APP contracts in two states, preserving the continuity of care for patients in those communities.
This article explores how Vituity’s embrace of an infinite mindset can counter the detrimental effects of short-term thinking in healthcare.
Infinite thinking: Building for today and the future
Infinite thinking in healthcare manifests as prioritizing patient outcomes over profits, empowering clinicians, embracing innovation, practicing transparency, engaging in community outreach and fostering collaboration. For instance, Microsoft's finite game strategy under Steve Ballmer nearly derailed the company, while Lego’s infinite game approach has seen it thrive through a focus on innovation rather than quarterly earnings.
Vituity, established in 1975 by emergency physicians and physician-owned and led since the beginning, naturally adopted an infinite mindset long before it became a strategy endorsed by thought leaders. This approach has guided Vituity for nearly half a century, with initiatives like:
- Prioritizing improving lives over simply achieving financial results.
- Granting frontline clinicians the autonomy to make decisions centered on patient welfare.
- Reinvesting in clinical teams and infrastructure, ensuring patient care remains paramount.
- Addressing clinician burnout, which is notably lower at Vituity than industry averages due to a strong focus on provider fulfillment and improving lives.
- Committing to ending health disparities, a mission that started well before value-based care and health equity measures became a trend.
- Boosting community impact by offering mentorship and support to minority students pursuing healthcare careers.
Vituity’s Infinite Game
This forward-thinking approach has enhanced patient care and spurred Vituity's growth and impact to care for over 9 million patients annually. Our company has expanded without external investments, outpacing industry growth rates by focusing on adding value to patients and providers. This growth is rooted in an ethos that places life improvement at the heart of business strategy, proving that focusing on healthcare's infinite game can also lead to financial success.
Vituity's experience shows that the infinite mindset is more than an idealistic vision; it's a practical model for sustainable healthcare. In the face of private equity's surge in healthcare, raising costs and compromising care quality, the infinite game approach offers a stable, patient-centered alternative. It invests in people, from clinicians to patients to community members, ensuring that the healthcare system serves its true purpose: to provide care and improve health. Our focus has always been investing in our communities rather than siphoning profits and taking away from those already reeling communities.
As the healthcare industry confronts challenges like clinician burnout, nursing shortages and the need for innovation, that infinite mindset is preferable and necessary. It calls for a shift away from short-term, profit-driven strategies and, therefore, allows those in healthcare to continue to stay in the game.
Vituity's commitment to this philosophy is unwavering. By continuously reinvesting in our practice locations, Vituity ensures that its teams have the resources to prioritize excellent patient care. The company seeks to collaborate with organizations that share its vision of a healthcare system focused on long-term well-being and equitable care.
Ultimately, Vituity's strategy invites the broader healthcare industry to adopt a new perspective. By playing the infinite game, healthcare leaders can work together to create a system that delivers health, joy and quality of life to communities—a noble and attainable goal, one patient at a time.
About the Author
|Dr. Imamu Tomlinson
CEO of Vituity and President of Vituity Cares Foundation
Dr. Imamu Tomlinson is a leading figure in healthcare, known for advocating healthcare equity and workforce diversity. His efforts in patient-focused healthcare innovations are nationally recognized. At Vituity, he directs a physician-owned partnership impacting over 9 million patients annually across 450 locations. Dr. Tomlinson also founded Vituity Cares Foundation, promoting health equity and nurturing future healthcare leaders. His vision extends to healthcare innovation, overseeing Vituity's Innovation and Venture branch and Inflect Health, thus reshaping future healthcare landscapes. Learn more at www.vituity.com.