"No question what we're doing is beginning to pay off as we watch utilization," he says. "We'll claim some of that has been because of offerings outside the walls of our traditional hospitals where people can get resources to treat them if necessary, but resources where they can care for themselves, too."
He's talking about investments by the health system in exercise facilities and areas for nutrition education and personal behavior modification.
"We're beginning to see momentum around communities wanting to have the tools for well being."
If this sounds far away from focusing on metrics like inpatient bed days, revenue per adjusted discharge, and the like, it's because Hawthorne says health systems have to move away from that fee-for-service mentality in order to survive what he says is already a massive reorientation in the way medical care is provided. Part of that shift has to do with legislation like PPACA, but Hawthorne says employers and patients themselves are demanding that health systems seek ways to prevent maladies as well as treat them once they appear. Still, seven years into a wholesale transition, he's under no illusion that this shift in mentality will be quick.
"The exciting part is we are seeing change. Where we want to go may be a full generation from now, but you have to start somewhere," he says. "Changing how a community lives happens slowly and surely, but we have a chance to do something big."