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We finally finished the "season" in southwest Florida, which saw population growth of around 1 to 1.5 percent and patient growth of more than 10 percent. While rounding, I cannot help but notice how hard everyone constantly works. While it is never said enough, I am so appreciative for all the support everyone provides toward better patient care and support of one another. It is great to hear stories on how much we support each other in order to provide the best care to those we serve. We are truly in this mission together. People really seem to know their "why" when you ask them.
Keeping this in mind, it is very important to ensure that burnout does not occur, and we have to watch after each other as we may not notice the signs when it happens to us.
by Ron Shinkman
When I dine with Jerry Seelig, it's usually to enjoy some foodie oasis in or around Los Angeles. But when I sat down with him for breakfast last week, it was to deconstruct his recently concluded odyssey as an accidental hospital CEO.
Seelig is a patient care ombudsman (PCO). Courts appoint him to work with a hospital or nursing home when it files for bankruptcy protection to ensure that the continuity and quality of care doesn't deteriorate in tandem with the provider's financial situation. He plies his trade all over the western U.S.
Last year, Seelig was appointed PCO for Nye Regional Medical Center. It's located in the remote mining town of Tonopah, Nevada, best known as being adjacent to the infamous Area 51 where the U.S. military puts top-secret aircraft through its paces. The hospital had filed for bankruptcy in late 2013 and was in danger of closing, leaving the community without another acute care facility for at least 100 miles in pretty much every direction.
That isolation led in part to Seelig being named the hospital's Responsible Executive--a bankruptcy term that is the legal equivalent of a CEO--about four months after he became its PCO. The area's leaders were impressed with his transparency in reporting patient care woes at the hospital, and given there were not a lot of experienced hospital executives willing to come in and take over, Seelig accepted the job. He'd commute to the hospital, flying into Las Vegas from Los Angeles and then making a 200-mile drive to Tonopah.
Aside from his PCO work, Seelig has had no experience as a hospital manager. You could call him a doctor, but given that's in reference to a Ph.D he earned from the University of Chicago in social work, that doesn't hold much weight in a patient ward.
I remain resolute in my position that patient experience is about much more than surveys or what they encompass--especially the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) measurements in the U.S. or surveys we see emerging in countries around the world. While no survey is or will ever be perfect, I also believe they can and do serve a critical purpose. They raise awareness, garner attention, and, on occasion, cause a shift in focus and action for the better.
This is what I see happening as a result of the focus on value emerging in healthcare, much driven by the emergence of standardized and public measures and a commitment to creating value-focused interactions. It also helps that there are real dollars now associated with the performance measured by these surveys.
In the U.S., prior to the emergence of the CAHPS surveys, healthcare primarily operated as a transactional business driven by the ability to drive volume. Quantity ruled as the financial driver and, as a result, reinforced a system in which bodies trumped the people they represented and diagnoses overshadowed names or personal stories. This is not to criticize those who committed their lives and careers to taking care of others in healthcare, but rather to recognize the system was rigged in a way to dampen that very spirit and purpose.
by Tom Scaletta
The healthcare industry is making major strides to elevate patient satisfaction as a key performance indicator. In fact, due to these satisfaction survey scores' influence on value-based reimbursement, the focus on them is only expected to grow inside the walls of healthcare organizations.
In addition, the trend toward patient consumerism means that patients also demand transparency in satisfaction survey findings. As patients are encouraged to take more control over their care--selecting providers based on quality, cost and convenience--surveys will play a substantial role in either attracting them or driving them away.
Yet even with so much riding on survey results, most healthcare organizations still rely on traditional paper-based post-discharge survey methods that have some inherent and significant limitations. Administrators need to understand the confines of traditional surveys to avoid the risk of using instruments that provide flawed data.
In their effort to slow the pace of hospital consolidations, federal regulators have taken a new approach that has led to increased success. The Supreme Court recently declined to review the application of this new approach, suggesting that it will continue to be employed for the foreseeable future, with far-reaching consequences for the healthcare industry.
Since the early 1980s, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has challenged hospital mergers that it believed to be anticompetitive, often successfully blocking such mergers before they were even consummated.
In the late 1990s, however, the FTC lost eight straight hospital merger challenges, either due to the its failure to establish the relevant market, its inability to convince the courts that the predicted anticompetitive effects would ever materialize, or due to a perception that a not-for-profit hospital's conduct is driven only by benign intentions.
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