The Promises and Constraints of Consumer-Directed Healthcare Net Present Value (NPV) / MBA Resources

Introduction to Net Present Value (NPV) - What is Net Present Value (NPV) ? How it impacts financial decisions regarding project management?

NPV solution for The Promises and Constraints of Consumer-Directed Healthcare case study

At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. The Promises and Constraints of Consumer-Directed Healthcare case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by Philip T. Powell, Ron Laufer. The The Promises and Constraints of Consumer-Directed Healthcare (referred as “Healthcare Directed” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Technology & Operations. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, Personnel policies.

The net present value (NPV) of an investment proposal is the present value of the proposal’s net cash flows less the proposal’s initial cash outflow. If a project’s NPV is greater than or equal to zero, the project should be accepted.

NPV = Present Value of Future Cash Flows LESS Project’s Initial Investment

Case Description of The Promises and Constraints of Consumer-Directed Healthcare Case Study

Consumer-directed healthcare promises to reduce costs and increase quality by expanding provider choice for prospective patients. High-deductible insurance, employer- or government-subsidized health savings accounts, transparent pricing, and accurate information on clinical performance help generate millions of patients shopping for healthcare. As in any other well-behaved market, when patients shop, there is a link between financial reward and value for the individual patient. Absence of price competition, agency problems, and high barriers to entry in local markets are market failures that currently break this link in U.S. healthcare. Consumer-directed health plans are already popular among many employers and have established a momentum that indirectly shapes discussion of reform by the Obama administration. Complexity of reporting clinical results, dependence of treatment success on at-home patient behavior, and scientific ignorance among consumers threaten delivery of results promised by theory. Successful implementation requires regulator attention to sophisticated data reporting that adjusts for clinical risk, avoidance of patient-focused marketing that leads to over-consumption, and adequate subsidy of health savings accounts. In the end, implementation shifts the locus of healthcare system control from cost-shifting negotiations between employers, providers, and payers to new-found purchasing power of prospective patients.

Case Authors : Philip T. Powell, Ron Laufer

Topic : Technology & Operations

Related Areas : Personnel policies

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for The Promises and Constraints of Consumer-Directed Healthcare Case Study

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10023173) -10023173 - -
Year 1 3467151 -6556022 3467151 0.9434 3270897
Year 2 3970797 -2585225 7437948 0.89 3533995
Year 3 3949317 1364092 11387265 0.8396 3315923
Year 4 3221908 4586000 14609173 0.7921 2552053
TOTAL 14609173 12672868

The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2649695

In isolation the NPV number doesn't mean much but put in right context then it is one of the best method to evaluate project returns. In this article we will cover -

Different methods of capital budgeting

What is NPV & Formula of NPV,
How it is calculated,
How to use NPV number for project evaluation, and
Scenario Planning given risks and management priorities.

Capital Budgeting Approaches

Methods of Capital Budgeting

There are four types of capital budgeting techniques that are widely used in the corporate world –

1. Net Present Value
2. Profitability Index
3. Payback Period
4. Internal Rate of Return

Apart from the Payback period method which is an additive method, rest of the methods are based on Discounted Cash Flow technique. Even though cash flow can be calculated based on the nature of the project, for the simplicity of the article we are assuming that all the expected cash flows are realized at the end of the year.

Discounted Cash Flow approaches provide a more objective basis for evaluating and selecting investment projects. They take into consideration both –

1. Magnitude of both incoming and outgoing cash flows – Projects can be capital intensive, time intensive, or both. Healthcare Directed shareholders have preference for diversified projects investment rather than prospective high income from a single capital intensive project.
2. Timing of the expected cash flows – stockholders of Healthcare Directed have higher preference for cash returns over 4-5 years rather than 10-15 years given the nature of the volatility in the industry.

Formula and Steps to Calculate Net Present Value (NPV) of The Promises and Constraints of Consumer-Directed Healthcare

NPV = Net Cash In Flowt1 / (1+r)t1 + Net Cash In Flowt2 / (1+r)t2 + … Net Cash In Flowtn / (1+r)tn
Less Net Cash Out Flowt0 / (1+r)t0

Where t = time period, in this case year 1, year 2 and so on.
r = discount rate or return that could be earned using other safe proposition such as fixed deposit or treasury bond rate. Net Cash In Flow – What the firm will get each year.
Net Cash Out Flow – What the firm needs to invest initially in the project.

Step 1 – Understand the nature of the project and calculate cash flow for each year.
Step 2 – Discount those cash flow based on the discount rate.
Step 3 – Add all the discounted cash flow.
Step 4 – Selection of the project

Why Technology & Operations Managers need to know Financial Tools such as Net Present Value (NPV)?

In our daily workplace we often come across people and colleagues who are just focused on their core competency and targets they have to deliver. For example marketing managers at Healthcare Directed often design programs whose objective is to drive brand awareness and customer reach. But how that 30 point increase in brand awareness or 10 point increase in customer touch points will result into shareholders’ value is not specified.

To overcome such scenarios managers at Healthcare Directed needs to not only know the financial aspect of project management but also needs to have tools to integrate them into part of the project development and monitoring plan.

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 15%

After working through various assumptions we reached a conclusion that risk is far higher than 6%. In a reasonably stable industry with weak competition - 15% discount rate can be a good benchmark.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 15 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10023173) -10023173 - -
Year 1 3467151 -6556022 3467151 0.8696 3014914
Year 2 3970797 -2585225 7437948 0.7561 3002493
Year 3 3949317 1364092 11387265 0.6575 2596740
Year 4 3221908 4586000 14609173 0.5718 1842136
TOTAL 10456283

The Net NPV after 4 years is 433110

(10456283 - 10023173 )

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 20%

If the risk component is high in the industry then we should go for a higher hurdle rate / discount rate of 20%.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 20 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10023173) -10023173 - -
Year 1 3467151 -6556022 3467151 0.8333 2889293
Year 2 3970797 -2585225 7437948 0.6944 2757498
Year 3 3949317 1364092 11387265 0.5787 2285484
Year 4 3221908 4586000 14609173 0.4823 1553775
TOTAL 9486050

The Net NPV after 4 years is -537123

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9486050 - 10023173 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Healthcare Directed to discount cash flow at lower discount rates such as 15%.

Acceptance Criteria of a Project based on NPV

Simplest Approach – If the investment project of Healthcare Directed has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Healthcare Directed can ACCEPT the project, otherwise they can reject the project. This means that project will deliver higher returns over the period of time than any alternate investment strategy.

In theory if the required rate of return or discount rate is chosen correctly by finance managers at Healthcare Directed, then the stock price of the Healthcare Directed should change by same amount of the NPV. In real world we know that share price also reflects various other factors that can be related to both macro and micro environment.

In the same vein – accepting the project with zero NPV should result in stagnant share price. Finance managers use discount rates as a measure of risk components in the project execution process.

Sensitivity Analysis

Project selection is often a far more complex decision than just choosing it based on the NPV number. Finance managers at Healthcare Directed should conduct a sensitivity analysis to better understand not only the inherent risk of the projects but also how those risks can be either factored in or mitigated during the project execution. Sensitivity analysis helps in –

What are the uncertainties surrounding the project Initial Cash Outlay (ICO’s). ICO’s often have several different components such as land, machinery, building, and other equipment.

Understanding of risks involved in the project.

What will be a multi year spillover effect of various taxation regulations.

What are the key aspects of the projects that need to be monitored, refined, and retuned for continuous delivery of projected cash flows.

What can impact the cash flow of the project.

Some of the assumptions while using the Discounted Cash Flow Methods –

Projects are assumed to be Mutually Exclusive – This is seldom the came in modern day giant organizations where projects are often inter-related and rejecting a project solely based on NPV can result in sunk cost from a related project.

Independent projects have independent cash flows – As explained in the marketing project – though the project may look independent but in reality it is not as the brand awareness project can be closely associated with the spending on sales promotions and product specific advertising.

References & Further Readings

Philip T. Powell, Ron Laufer (2018), "The Promises and Constraints of Consumer-Directed Healthcare Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.