Monday, November 26, 2007

Impacting Healthcare Reform at the National and Local level

When I first started my blog I had good intentions of writing at least weekly if not more, I apologize for not keeping up. In the future, I will try and do better.

It has been a month since my last blog and certainly there has been much to write about. Before I dive into one of my favorite topics these days, Reform of our Health System, I'd like to mention that this was a very good week for me personally. I just returned to work after the wedding of my daughter Amy to Eric. While I was away, I had five phone messages from customers; four were compliments and the fifth was a very good suggestion on how we could improve services. I want to send Compliments to our Community Care and Rehabilitation Center, Imaging, Physical Therapy, and ER departments, each of which was mentioned favorably in the complimentary calls.

Now, onto the issue of Health System Reform. If you go to website and type “ Solutions: Health Care” into its search engine, you will see some great commentary from political leaders, professors, government employees , physicians and many others calling for reform of our national healthcare system. If we would just take some of their inspired, mutually-agreed upon suggestions and start implementing change, it would be wonderful. The payment system is archaic and cumbersome and the barriers to real price information are thwarted by it complexities and the confidentiality agreements between payers and providers.

At the local level, we are continuing with our efforts to collect meaningful price information from customers in the marketplace. We will reach out to service organizations and others to collect information from individual E.O.B.s(explanation of benefits). From this information, we hope to be able to explain to our marketplace that Alliance Community Hospital and the Independent Hospital Network (Aultman, Dunlap, Joel Pomeren and Union Hospitals) are one of the best consumer values for acquiring health services in the USA. Another advantage we hope to garner from compiling this information, is to determine whether or not we are being fairly compensated.

Internally, we will be studying the design of our health benefits package. We want to do more to foster accountability for changes in health habits of Colleagues. An example might be: Colleagues who smoke may pay more in the future for their health insurance. Our Pharmacy department is exploring a better way to manage chronic ailments and illnesses that are a major part of our colleague expense budget. In addition, we are examining better use of our internal data to be help shape better prescription drug purchases.

We will keep you informed about our progress in these areas. In my next blog, I hope to touch upon the issue of Community benefit and our not-for-profit status.