Case Study

Great Plains Health

Need for “A La Carte” Medical Consulting leads to CHC: Great Plains Health, North Platte, NE

The Situation

Many hospitals come to Community Hospital Corporation (CHC) in critical condition, while others come to optimize their good health. Great Plains Health in North Platte, Nebraska, is hale and hearty, with robust finances and a governing board that asks smart questions. Managed for nearly 25 years by an outside organization, Great Plains began to question the partnership’s value in 2009. As a result, Great Plains began searching for an advisory partner to provide specific medical consulting services according to need. Hospital leaders tapped CHC Consulting, the management and consulting arm of CHC, leading to improvements in operations, supply chain and productivity.

“CHC values the independent business model and helps keep it viable in the face of economic uncertainty and sweeping changes in the healthcare industry.”

Mel McNea, CEO, Great Plains Health


Great Plains provides care for some 150,000 inpatients and outpatients annually throughout West Central Nebraska. In addition, their outreach programs also serve 2,000 patients each year. The hospital campus is undergoing a $100 million transformation including construction of a new patient tower.

But though Great Plains thinks big, hospital leaders know that bigger isn’t always better. Such was the case with the management contract, which included a “big bundle” of services the hospital had no use for, says board chair David Pederson.

Together with the board, hospital executives decided what they wanted in a vendor: “Not to be taken over, not someone to run us, but a trusted partner to help us achieve our goals and vision,” explains Mel McNea, Great Plains Health CEO.

The Plan

Instead of a bundled management contract, “We wanted more of an à la carte arrangement based on what we felt we needed, including group purchasing and help fine-tuning operations,” says Pederson.

CHC Consulting listened to and met those needs rather than pushing a prepackaged solution. And in designing a custom medical consulting solution for the hospital, “CHC thought of things we hadn’t based on their assessment of how we operate,” he adds.

Along with transition support as Great Plains parted ways with its longtime management company, CHC Consulting provided or helped provide:

  • Analyses of revenue cycle, supply spend and productivity
  • Conversion to CHC Consulting’s group purchasing organization (GPO)
  • Custom contracts for orthopedic implants
  • Perioperative process improvement
  • Profitability performance plan
  • Plans for regional development as well as market share growth
  • Practice management support
  • Productivity enhancement using CHC Consulting’s Productivity Tool to adjust and manage staffing levels
  • Ongoing strategic planning sessions

“CHC’s financial acumen is exceptional. They made sure we were running as efficiently as possible,” McNea says.

“As part of our medical consulting relationship, CHC facilitates our strategic planning process. CHC knows when to chime in and when to let us go,” adds Pederson.

The Results

“In the past five years, we have grown from 45 to 90 members on the medical staff. We also added several service lines, including infectious disease, cardiology, a bariatrics program and an endocrinology program,” Pederson says.

In addition, CHC Consulting arranged for custom contracting for physician preferred items. As a result, steering Great Plains saved 25 percent, or $425,000, on their annual hip and knee spend of $1.7M.

“This is a great example of helping a good organization perform better,” concludes Wilson Weber, executive vice president and chief operating officer for CHC.

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