SwedishAmerican Health System

A Case Study in Outreach Expansion

Situation

SwedishAmerican Health System (SAH) is a not-for-profit, locally-governed health care system dedicated to providing the highest value care to those who are sick, and the most effective prevention strategies to those who are well. Headquartered in Rockford, Illinois, SAH serves 12 counties in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin through a major acute-care hospital, a network of 14 primary care and multi-specialty clinics, the region’s largest home healthcare agency and full spectrum of outpatient, wellness, and education programs, alternative, and complementary medicine.

Throughout the years, SAH has earned national recognition for the care it provides. This wouldn’t have been possible without a dedicated, committed staff and the charitable endeavors of the SAH Medical Foundation. Its people make the difference–they are SwedishAmerican’s past, present, and future.

SAH was interested in expanding their market potential and was looking for an outside consulting company to partner with them to realize their full potential.

Strategy

Even though SwedishAmerican Hospital of Rockford, Illinois, had operated a successful laboratory outreach program for seven years, in Year 8 management decided the time was right to seek an outside perspective. After considering four consulting companies that specialized in laboratory operations, Ken Nelson, the SAH Vice President of Clinical Services, chose Chi Solutions, Inc. (Chi) for the assignment. Today, he is surer than ever that he made the right choice.

Chi came in, evaluated our operations and the market potential, and determined that we should easily be able to triple our revenues, explains Nelson, who has been with SAH for over 30 years. “We were confident they could help us achieve that target, so we signed a three-year contract. They delivered on that initial projection and on every one since that time. That’s why we’re still partners over ten years later.”

At the outset, Chi performed market studies for SAH, developed outreach-marketing materials and provided the salesperson that went out and got the business. Before calling Chi, SAH’s most distant outreach customer was 10 miles away. Now it serves customers as far away as the Quad Cities, a nearly two-and-half hour drive. Moreover, SAH’s laboratory now runs 24 hours a day with 65 employees. In 2002, laboratory outreach revenue reached $6 million. Even with heavy volume increases, the laboratory has made no major equipment additions to serve its expanded market. “For the most part, we’ve been able to use what we have,” points out Nelson.

Results

Having added a second salesperson, SAH now has its eyes on the Western suburbs of Chicago. “We’ve gone head-to-head with some of the big national laboratories and have done very well,” emphasizes Nelson. “One of the reasons has been service. Our couriers are always on time, and they don’t lose specimens.” Another big advantage SAH offers is computerization. The laboratory provides web-based training and software that allows physicians easy and quick access to test results. “We’re pleased where we are and where we’re going,” points out Nelson. “We couldn’t have done it without Chi Solutions, Inc.”