Does reengineering really work? An examination of the context and outcomes of hospital reengineering initiatives.


OBJECTIVE: To examine the effect of reengineering on the competitive position of hospitals. Although many promises have been made regarding outcomes of process reengineering, little or no research has examined this issue. This article provides an initial exploration of the direct effects of reengineering on the competitive cost position of hospitals and the modifying effects of implementation factors. DATA SOURCES/STUDY SETTING: Obtained for primary data from a 1996/1997 national survey of hospital restructuring and reengineering sponsored by the American Hospital Association and the Leonard Davis Institute for Health Economics. Responses from approximately 30 percent of all U.S. acute care hospitals with 100 or more inpatient beds in metropolitan service areas were combined with American Hospital Association annual survey and InterStudy HMO data in this study. STUDY DESIGN: A first-difference multivariate regression was utilized to examine the effects of reengineering and other explanatory variables on the change in the cost position of a hospital's expenses per adjusted patient day relative to its market's costs per adjusted patient day. DATA COLLECTION/EXTRACTION METHODS: The survey of hospital restructuring and reengineering was mailed to hospital chief executive officers. The CEOs identified reengineering and restructuring hospital activities over the previous five years. The extensiveness and components of reengineering and internal restructuring were identified and used in the empirical analysis. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Results suggest that reengineering without integrative and coordinative efforts may damage an organization's cost position. The use of steering committees, project teams, codification of the change process, and executive involvement in core changes modifies the results of reengineering to improve an organization's competitive position. CONCLUSIONS: In a national sample of hospitals, reengineering alone was not found to improve the relative cost-competitive position. Organizations attempting to improve their cost competitiveness must consider the way in which change is implemented. This research suggests that the process of change may be as important as the change instrument. Additional research is needed to explore differences between early and late adopters.

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