Friday, October 19, 2007

Competition, but on a level or even playing field…please talk with your local legislators regarding house bill SB120

Competition is a very good thing. If you have read some of my past blogs relating to transparency, our hospital and doctors feel we can compete with anybody in providing great services at a valued price.

Why am I so concerned about this legislation and the expansion of niche or specialty hospitals? More services and choices mean more competition, right? WRONG!

These specialty hospitals usually target the most profitable services that are typically part of a Community-not-for profit hospital, like ACH. Yes, we too (like the for profit hospitals) need to make money otherwise we wouldn’t be here. However, the profits we make get plowed back into all the services that aren’t self supporting and sometimes lose a great deal of money; services that are vital to our Community like having an Emergency Department available 24 hours a day, seven days a week that never closes; or OB Services or Cardiac Rehabilitation.

At our facility our not for profit status entitles us to tax advantages to the tune of about 2.3 million dollars a year. We still make a profit but, we provide just under $8 million of Community benefit dollars to support services that otherwise would not be provided or scaled back greatly.

One of two things should occur if specialty hospitals are allowed to proliferate in Ohio. The first, which is addressed in the proposed legislation, is that these hospitals should also provide emergency support to the Communities that they are in. This levels the playing field and shares the burden of providing much of the Community’s uncompensated care. The other is unlikely to occur. Without inclusion of this type of provision how services are paid for must change. Insurance companies and the government must shift some of the payment away from the profitable services and pay more for services like OB, ER, and Cardiac Rehab. If that doesn’t occur we will have more competition, more fragmentation and most likely higher costs. That is my opinion, what’s yours?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Health Consumers We Need Your Help

At Alliance Community Hospital we are trying to learn how to be better shoppers of health care. How can you help? By sending me your comments and questions as they relate to shopping for health care services. Hospitals, doctor offices, and free standing centers are not very well prepared to answer many of your questions. Probably the most frustrating is not knowing in advance how much you will pay for a service, the amount of your co-pay or out of pocket expense. So, what information do you need to become better shoppers of health care services?
Looking forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Is the Customer/Guest Always Right? And Kudos Again

Kudos Again

Being a backwards thinker sometimes gets you where you want to be faster. So I will begin with the end of this blog first…I have been getting more and more compliments about Colleagues who work here. Here are two, one from the end of the summer that missed being passed on and the other from last week:

Sharon writes “…In E.R. Susan was the shining star. She was patient, kind, caring and quite knowledgeable…she more than goes the extra mile. She is a great asset…And in same day surgery, Dotty went the extra mile as well…she was kind and had a wonderful sense of humor. She puts the patient at ease and has a wonderful smile. Please let both individuals know how much they are appreciated.

Debra called to recognize Dawn and Tricia part of our therapy team. They were both so kind and professional. I will always recommend Alliance Community as the place to go.

The above comments are wonderful. I look forward to the calls regarding staff because I usually can get more of what our colleagues exactly did to make such an impression.

Is the Customer/Guest Always Right?

So is the customer or guest always right? I guess it is a matter of perspective. When a customer takes the time, or initiative, to share a comment you can either receive it as free consulting/advice or you can view it as a complaint. Most people usually don’t express their dissatisfaction because they don’t want to get anybody in trouble; at least those are the words I hear most often as it relates to healthcare. Many of our customers and guests at Alliance Community Hospital listen for the following words, “Is there anything else I or a fellow Colleague can do for you?” as their cue to let us know if we haven’t met their expectations; and they can do so without getting anyone in trouble. During a patient's stay or visit with us a Colleague may offer a business card. On the bottom of their card is the leader of the department in which they work. If the Colleague can’t respond to the request directly their boss is available to help. If for any reason they are unable to respond, the patient is free to turn the card over and contact me directly. My business, cell and email are listed. In the past when I would be responding to what customers would say is a "complaint" and went to follow up with a Colleague or department manager often the first words I would hear were, “You have to hear my (our) side of it." This doesn’t happen too much anymore. Most times it goes, “Let’s look at what happened and see if there was a way to meet the customer’s expectations.” It isn’t a right or wrong issue anymore.

Last week a patient’s wife called in to express concern over the discharge process related to her husband’s care. Although she was very concerned about her husband, she wanted to make sure if there was anything that could have been done better that we investigate, and if so help avoid some of the things they went through.

We will be getting back to her and her husband and we were very thankful for her call. Certainly when things go well we love to hear from you; however we care just as much when they don’t or we haven’t met your expectations so please let us know how we are doing.

Thanks. Stan

P.S. (Just recieved this comment!) Virginia writes regarding our transport services sponsored by local physicians and the hospital: “I want you to know how important your transport service is to me….I ….and most of my friends are in our eighties and don’t like to drive…It is a wonderful service”