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Q&A: Centura Health System CEO Details His Grand Plan

Analysis  |  By Philip Betbeze  
   October 12, 2017

Peter Banko talks about Centura's embrace of virtual medicine the huge revenue opportunity in its active pursuit of payer partnerships and the level of transformation required.

Peter Banko has a grand plan for Colorado's Centura Health System.

Part of it includes encouraging people look at one of the state's biggest health systems as more than the sum of its 17 hospitals.

Banko took the reins of the system serving Colorado and western Kansas from Gary Campbell, who served as president and CEO since 2008.

Campbell will continue to serve as a special adviser to Banko, 50, who arrived as president and chief operating officer 17 months ago from Catholic Health Initiatives, one of Centura's two corporate parents. The other is Adventist Healthcare.

HealthLeaders recently spoke with Banko about his plans for leading the $3.5 billion (operating revenue) health system into the future. Following is a lightly edited transcript of that conversation.

HealthLeaders: Your plan focuses on the importance of aligning physicians, hospitals and payers. That's a common goal, but what does it mean to you?

Banko: In short, it means delivering value. To do that, first we want to achieve cost-consistency across our markets.

It's a delicate dance, but we started that journey over the past year. That way we're making changes before we find ourselves behind the eight-ball.

We'll have a more intense focus on outcomes, service, and clinical variation in my first year. My goal is to do the work before we find ourselves in a financial pickle.

HealthLeaders: Where is Centura in terms of value maturity?

Banko: We're probably at a five or six [out of 10]. We have a lot of things going with Medicaid and Medicare Advantage and value networks with payers.

We're going to drive that to a seven, eight, or nine with payer partners, because we think healthcare is too expensive and too inconsistent even within our system.

For instance, you could pay $53,000 for a knee replacement at one of our locations or $16,000 at another. It's part of our mission to be consistent and do that at lower costs with better outcomes. This is a two- to four-year journey.

HealthLeaders: What are the biggest challenges Centura faces?

Banko: I don't worry about what other systems are trying or doing. We have a really good team here and if we're executing on our four goals, no matter what happens, we'll do well.

Number one, we want to be the go-to brand and health system in Colorado and western Kansas.

Second, we want to be a system of choice for our associates and physicians--where they want to work and where they feel vibrant, youthful and growing.

Third, we want to build our services to the point where people will drive by two competitors to get to Centura.

Fourth, we want to grow health value by partnering with payers to deliver something different in terms of value for consumers.

HealthLeaders: You're interested in the capabilities of virtual medicine and telehealth. How is Centura investing in this trend?

Banko: We've been on the "care everywhere" journey for quite a while, and we recognize that building more buildings isn't the right way to invest. We've developed a lot of pilots. We have a partnership with Walgreens for retail.

Dispatch Health does physician and nurse home visits for us.

We continue to invest in email, text and video care.

My 22-year-old wants to interact with his physician when he needs it, and he doesn't want to drive to a building. He wants video visits. We're going to broaden our capabilities so how you interact with us is based on how you want to interact with us.

Where we have capabilities we're going to do it ourselves. Where we think others bring skill sets and opportunities we can't, we'll partner.

Frankly, there's not enough dollars for a health system to do everything. Not every physician needs to be employed. We don't need to start a health plan. We don't need to necessarily own other hospitals.

HealthLeaders: Describe Centura's "health neighborhoods" initiative. How has it evolved since being unveiled in 2013?

Banko: We define our markets in terms of neighborhoods. We take a deep look at what's in that neighborhood from an age, race, gender, and income level, gauge what other services are there, and then we build a neighborhood health center that serves the market's needs.

Some may have primary care only. Some may have urgent care, surgery centers, or imaging centers.

As we partner with other systems or hospitals, we have community discussion needs and these are largely built around the primary care development network. It has nothing to do with the hospital at all. An obvious growth opportunity is partnering with physicians to enhance our systems of care around cardio, ortho, neuro, and cancer care to differentiate our product.

HealthLeaders: What's your biggest revenue growth opportunity?

Banko: Payer partnerships. Through alignment with the with health system, physician and payer, we need to offer a different customer experience for employers, brokers and individuals.

That's a billion-dollar revenue opportunity for us, but everyone has to give something up for a new relationship based on value.

We have to give up the tradition of always expecting increases and battling around rates. We have to develop a system of coordinated care.

Payers have to give up their traditional way of operating too. I think we can all be successful in it, but we have to let go of the transactional way in which we deal with one another. Any payer that wants to get out of a transactional relationship, we're interested in talking to.

We meet quarterly with all those partners anyway, and we're always interested in new entrants that want to do things differently.

HealthLeaders: While Centura has been performing well financially, your co-parent, CHI, has not. How do you see the proposed merger between CHI and Dignity Health affecting your system?

Banko: There's no Dignity facilities in our market. I've been affiliated with CHI for 10 years and it's a good way to enhance Catholic health ministry across the country.

I'm of the mind the Catholic systems will eventually boil down to three large systems. If CHI and Dignity can have that discussion first, then better for them.

Catholic healthcare is foundational in our country. It brought healthcare initially to much of the U.S. I'm excited about a larger organization's ability to have a larger impact, and to be a voice of reason. By coming together, they can do that.

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders.

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