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Partnership
Beating the Odds in Rural Healthcare

By Wilson Weber, Executive VP and COO, CHC

 

Rural hospitals operate as a healthcare safety net for smaller

communities, where demographics tell the story about these community-based hospitals. Patients tend to be older than those at urban or suburban hospitals, many patients are uninsured, and rural facilities have to maintain emergency rooms and beds for acute care even if they see fewer patients. In the last five years, Congress has sharply reduced spending on Medicare, and this decline in reimbursement rates has been particularly challenging for rural hospitals.

 

Along with the need for hospitals and healthcare services, our rural hospitals need more primary care physicians (PCPs) to care for patients. According to data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, there are 68 PCPs per 100,000 people in rural areas, compared with 84 per 100,000 in urban areas. Approximately 65 percent of primary care health professional shortage areas are in rural counties, according to Rural Healthy People 2020. This lopsided geographic distribution makes it doubly difficult for rural hospitals to maintain the health of their communities.

 

Like any business, a hospital’s financial well-being is tied to expenses and revenue. The tried-and-true formula is to increase revenue and reduce costs. That’s simple enough — yet bottom-line results for a rural hospital mean more than just the numbers. Employees, patients and the surrounding community depend on the hospital’s continued success.

 

In spite of the challenges, some community hospitals are seeing better financial performance. Let’s examine some actions they are taking to improve the bottom line.  

  1. Identify areas needing improvement. Begin by looking at the basics. For example, Yoakum Community Hospital in Yoakum, Texas began working to qualify the payer status of patients prior to admission. Self-pay patients may qualify for Medicaid or another reimbursement source. This step alone can make a significant difference in increasing revenue. 
  2. Strengthen physician relations. Great Plains Regional Medical Center includes physicians in leadership positions to enhance relationships between hospital executives and physicians. Currently physicians account for roughly one-third of the hospital's board, so they have a voice in the hospital’s strategic decisions. Hospital-physician collaboration can improve quality and cost efficiency. And because a significant part of the growth and success of a hospital is dependent upon the right mix of physicians and specialists, creating or revising your medical staff development plan should also be on your “to-do” list. 
  3. Benchmark performance against similar hospitals. Compare clinical data. This is a great way to identify opportunities for improvement and potential cost saving, and facilitate movement toward value-based care.
  4. Think about partnerships. If internal improvements aren’t sufficient, community hospitals may want to consider forming relationships with other organizations. Analyze the advantages and disadvantages of a potential partnership. What is the community hospital expected to provide? What amount of control they will cede for the expected benefits of the partnership? Make sure cultures are aligned and define expectations at the start.
  5. Ensure board involvement. Your board can be your biggest advocate and ally. When board members are better educated about their responsibilities, including overseeing finances, clinical quality and strategy, their support and ideas can be invaluable.

Financial stability is the solution to beating the odds in rural healthcare. Find out more about how CHC is helping hospitals.

 

Tags: Affordable Care Act, Hospital Performance Improvement, Operational Improvement, Partnership, Strategic Direction
Mike Williams Receives Collier Award for Distinguished Health Care Administration

CHC is pleased to announce that President and CEO Mike Williams is the 2014 recipient of the Texas Hospital Association’s highest honor, the Earl M. Collier Award for Distinguished Health Care Administration.

 

The award recognizes distinguished executives’ contributions to, and leadership in, the healthcare industry, as well as their active participation in THA and other industry groups. Williams’ colleagues and clients express how fully he qualifies for the award in the short video you’re about to see.

 

 

THA’s bestowal of this award upon Williams indicates how highly he is respected outside the organization, says CHC board chairman Ken Gordon. Williams is a frequent national speaker on the preservation of community hospitals, drawing from his experience growing CHC from a one-employee operation in 1997 to an industry leader with a corporate staff of 60 and hospital clients in 25 states.

 

All told, Williams has 30 years of experience in executive management.

Tags: Hospital Management, Operational Improvement, Partnership, Strategic Direction
Turnaround program improves hospital’s profile and prospects: Memorial Health System of East Texas, Lufkin, TX

After six decades of regional prominence, Memorial Medical Center-Lufkin, the flagship hospital of a four-campus system in East Texas, weathered a multi-year trend of dwindling patient volume and cash reserves resulting in a bond rating downgrade. Determined to get back on track, hospital leaders hired CHC to design and implement a turnaround program to restore the hospital’s financial health and credit, as well as the system’s prospects as a whole.

 

Recently, the system announced a strategic partnership made possible in part by the turnaround program’s impressive results.

 

Read the full case study for more.

 

Learn about CHC's Turnaround Services

Tags: Operational Improvement, Partnership
CHC webinar recap: Evaluating partnership opportunities

A Jan. 30 Becker’s Hospital Review webinar presented by Mike Williams, president and CEO of Community Hospital Corporation (CHC), offered best practices and a case study for community hospitals looking for a partner. 2012 saw the most merger and acquisition activity among hospitals in two decades, Williams said, and the trend is expected to continue in 2013 as many community hospitals — faced with healthcare reform, decreasing reimbursements and other challenges — acknowledge the need for some type of partner.

 

The case study presented by Glenn Robinson, CEO of Hillcrest Health System in Waco, Texas, demonstrated how Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center saw significant improvements —including the strongest financial year in its history — after partnering with Scott & White, with guidance from CHC.

 

When considering a partnership, community hospitals first must assess their needs and potential gains in seven key areas:

  • Community need
  • Clinical service breadth
  • Physician alignment
  • Revenue
  • Managed care leverage
  • Compatibility of purpose or mission
  • Reputation

Read the entire Becker’s Hospital Review article here.

 

Download a recording of the presentation here.

 

Download the PDF version of the presentation here.

Tags: Hospital Board Advisory, Independence, Partnership, Strategic Direction
Educational webinar: Important community hospital partnership considerations

A webinar on Jan. 30 will explore various partnership options as well as key factors to keep in mind when considering a partnership of any kind. Mike Williams, CHC’s president and CEO, is presenting the program on behalf of Becker’s Hospital Review.

  

Besides potential upsides and downsides, learn what to do first in order to negotiate from a position of strength: 

  • Know your market clout 
  • Assess your finances 
  • Understand your hospital’s clinical strengths and needs 
  • Consider the prospect of shared infrastructure

Hear firsthand how Hillcrest Health System, Waco, Texas, was guided to partner with Scott & White, Temple, Texas. 

 

Read the entire Becker’s Hospital Review article here.

 

Download a recording of the presentation here.

 

Download the PDF version of the presentation here

Tags: Hospital Board Advisory, Independence, Partnership

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