Contracting Model, Portfolio Pricing & Organizational Culture Lead Consorta to HealthTrust Purchasing GroupJune 1, 2007
Consorta Inc.'s decision to join HealthTrust Purchasing Group culminated a rigorous two-year effort to find better ways to reduce supply chain costs for the group purchasing organization's faith-based and nonprofit health systems. John W. Strong, who led the strategic move as Consorta's president and CEO, says an independent third party's scrutiny of 600 items in key market categories, combined with a detailed study of HealthTrust's entire contract portfolio, convinced his board and membership that the union will be meaningful to their bottom lines. "When all is said and done and the dust settles on this, we think that the savings will be double-digit for our members," Strong says. "That's over and above what we were doing, and we thought we had pricing that was every bit as good as any other major group purchasing organization in the country."
Getting to the Heart of Quality A Mississippi Hospital makes key changes in practice to improve cardiac care and sees a drop in mortality rates. Getting physicians and surgeons to change their entrenched practice patterns is one of the hardest journeys a hospital can face, but it's often vital to making patient care better. Actionable information, physician-to-physician engagement and a clinically credible and experienced third party can remove many rocks from the road. St. Dominic-Jackson Memorial Hospital in Jackson, MS has dramatically improved its cardiovascular care program by developing a collaborative multidisciplinary approach targeted at the highest risk patients. Though the approach is straightforward, getting physicians to accept that their current approach could improve, and then change the way they approached this risky population, was anything but. With the aid of HealthGrades Clinical Excellence Research and Consulting group, St. Dominic's was able to translate opportunities identified from multiple data sets, chart review and physicians into deliberate and focused process improvement. The 571-bed hospital's wake-up call was a report from HealthGrades, which is nationally known for analyzing Medicare outcomes data and other publicly available information. St. Dominic's 2004 mortality rates for several cardiac care areas, including bypass procedures, valve replacements and treatment of heart attacks, were worse than they should have been. Everyone-the administration, the board, and the medical staff-agreed that something had to be done.
Balancing Quality and Efficiency Effecting substantive improvement in the quality of care that a hospital provides requires anapproach that involves both clinical outcomes and the efficiency of the processes involved in delivering that care. The winners of the 2007 Premier Award for Quality exemplify an organizational commitment to this important balance.
PATIENT SATISFACTION AND PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo reinvents its cafeteria menu at least monthly. Its breast care center, located in a separate building so that patients don't have to go into the main hospital for their mammograms, has the calming atmosphere of a Zen garden. Candidates for new hips and knees attend "Joint Camp"-they are admitted to the hospital in groups of ten to twenty and receive presurgery education and sometimes even post-op physical therapy together. As a result, they have support not only from clinicians and their families, but from peers who know exactly what they are going through.
Optimal Patient Flow Making sure patients move through the hospital in a timely, efficient manner can make the difference between filled beds and empty ones, happy nurses and harried ones, profitable stays and unprofitable ones,satisfied patients and angry ones. We talked with four executives who are joining technology with process improvement to transform patient flow.
O.R. Clinician Crunch Eases with Information Technology >>> Hospital administrators who think they have problems filling staff vacancies should consider the Ochsner Health System in New Orleans, whose work force still hasn't recovered from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. "Staffing since Katrina has been a challenge," says Judith Landry, unit director of surgery at the system's flagship, 473-bed Ochsner Medical Center. "We're still not fully staffed, and staffing seems to be very fluid, not just here but within the city." Ochsner Medical Center was one of just three New Orleans hospitals that remained open throughout the crisis, so it attracted nurses and technicians from other institutions who were suddenly unemployed. Now that their home institutions are reopening, many are returning to their former positions. Some hospitals are offering a wage premium of up to four extra dollars an hour, or signing bonuses of $12,000, to lure them back, Landry says.
Providers find rock-solid solutions to their staffing, revenue cycle management, and IT challenges. For some, the term "outsourcing" conjures up images of a pink slip waiting on their desk on a Friday morning. For others, it is a fountain of relief in the midst of a dry spell that is the qualified labor market. One thing we can all agree upon is that outsourcing is a critical component of the healthcare delivery system, supplying personnel, technology resources, and operational best practices to major hospital or health system departments, including information technology (IT), finance, and human resources. And its popularity in healthcare-though effected by industry ebbs and flows-will only increase over time as providers look to create operational efficiencies and focus on their core mission of quality healthcare delivery.
A high-altitude look at our annual survey of hospital and medical group chief executive officers shows a group of leaders who are generally happy about their jobs with no immediate plans to retire. But before they do eventually bow out, they have some money to spend.
"Real news is bad news, " said famous communications theorist Marshall McLuhan. Here's the real news: Costs to deliver healthcare continue to spiral upward (albeit at a slower pace than during the late 1990s and early 2000s) as increases in labor, real estate, supplies and equipment outpace provider revenue growth.