Squeezing Costs Through Technology
Healthcare leaders are not just spending money on technology but using the tools to help control costs.
All areas of healthcare are being challenged to control or reduce costs, but providers are starting to think creatively not only to reduce technology costs but also to seek greater returns on investment and to squeeze out costs in general via new technology throughout healthcare.
Marin General Hospital recently became the third U.S. health system to enter into an unusual partnership with its technology provider, Philips, to reduce its capital expenditures on new diagnostic imaging equipment, patient monitoring, and related monitoring services by entering a $90 million, 15-year managed services contract.
"This is absolutely about cost," says Mark Zielazinski, chief information and technology integration officer at the Greenbrae, California, hospital, which is licensed for 235 beds, and employs 1,600 employees and 500 active physicians. In 2010, Marin General broke away from parent Sutter Health.
When Zielazinski arrived in 2012, "the divorce was over but the pains were still there," he says. At the time of the split, the hospital had eight days' cash on hand, but by 2012 had managed to increase that to 28 days. In 2013, the Marin Healthcare District, which owns the hospital, went to the voters of the district governing it with plans for a new hospital building.
Voters approved a tax to fund slightly less than $400 million of the needed $600 million, Zielazinski says. "Part of that is that the new building is going to cost us some $30 million in medical equipment." In addition, some equipment had to be purchased before 2020, when the new building opens, he adds.
In 2018, Marin General plans to sell $200 million in revenue bonds to fund the remaining capital. "Eighteen months ago, we were looking at finding ways to preserve our cash," Zielazinski says.