BAHT - a business model for healthcareThe power of innovation and the pursuit of new revenue areas are key elements in growing a business. But an unusual enterprise, in an almost-anonymous brick house near Chedoke hospital in Hamilton, is building its own distinct brand within a commercial segment: the business of healthcare.
Bay Area Health Trust is leveraging the astonishing range of hands-on medical and research expertise within Hamilton Health Sciences and McMaster University. With five stand-alone business units, those hands reach across both industry sectors and national borders.
Need help in designing a hospital or the systems inside it? There are BAHT people available. Want to package a new drug for a clinical test? Again, you can turn to BAHT. Need to go digital with your documents, or maybe you want to learn if you’re subject to a disease that imperils your vision? BAHT can assist.
“I don’t know whether there is anybody else like us,” says president and CEO Beth Manganelli. “But clearly, in our little business group, there are very eclectic specialities. . . . I haven’t heard of a hospital (system) doing this.” The mandate, adds director of finance and business development Paul McCracken, “is to scan for business opportunities and act upon them.”
The five units of the health trust, itself created in 2002, are: the Hamilton Hospitals Assessment Centre, Bay Area Records Conversion, Bay Area Research Logistics, Bay Area Consulting, and a new unit, Bay Area Genetics Lab involved in genetic tests. The first test available is for age-related macular degeneration. The potential is large for biomarker analysis for other diseases.
The trust has “a lean group” of perhaps 40 core employees, says Manganelli, a former hospital administrator. And some of the business units have access to hundreds of fee-for-service medical and related professionals and specialists – most, but not all, in Hamilton area.
BAHT’s business-of-healthcare case is made clear on its Internet home page (www.baht.ca), which notes that it is “an entrepreneurial organization focused on delivering business solutions that support healthcare services and research.” That means it will compete for services wherever it can gain contracts.
In fact, the trust has gone beyond operating rooms into business board rooms. Its records conversion unit, for example, has helped legal and engineering firms switch from paper to electronic records – a shift subject to the exacting standards of Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Ontario is slowly moving towards electronic medical records. BAHT should benefit in terms of future consulting and conversion business – it’s too early to tell yet – from the $500 million announced in the January federal budget for Canada Health Infoway. Ottawa’s goal is to have 50 per cent of Canadians with an electronic health record by 2010.
BAHT has gone global with its healthcare consulting operation, in working with architectural, medical-systems, and other professionals to help design hospitals in Beijing in China and the United Arab Emirates, for example. Those countries seek to offer healthcare that is consistent with North American standards.
International revenues also beckon within the research logistics unit, says McCracken. That lab packages and distributes – as well as looking after blinding controls – drugs involved in clinical trials. A current trial involves a worldwide heart-risks study run out of Hamilton’s Population Health Research Institute.
The assessment centre was the seed of BAHT, formed in 1990 to offer such services as psychological evaluations, physical demands analysis, and catastrophic assessment. Clients range from auto and disability insurance firms, to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, employers, and lawyers.