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Putting the 'H' in hospital

April 9th, 2014

by Barry Ronan

At the end of January 2014, I had the opportunity to speak at the American Hospital Association's Board Retreat in Miami, "Redefining the H." As AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock explained, "that big H on those blue and white signs denoting 'Hospital' always carried the promise of help, hope and healing; the hospital of the future will continue to extend that promise but in new ways by improving quality while lowering cost."

Prior to my presentation, Rick said that the environment in which hospitals operate is extraordinarily challenging, but--by becoming proactive rather than reactive and keeping people healthy, by moving care out of the hospital and into the communities, by increasing the use of medical and information technologies, and by applying evidence-based practices to better manage all illnesses more effectively--hospitals will meet their commitment to their respective communities.

His opening was a great lead in for my presentation on our transition to value-based care delivery three and one-half years ago and the success that Western Maryland Health System achieved through the Total Patient Revenue demonstration project that is now the standard in Maryland healthcare delivery.

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As WMHS successfully demonstrated, we are still there providing care under that big H in the emergency room and trauma program 24/7, in our operating rooms that are still fully staffed and equipped, in our heart program that remains one of the best in the state and the patient is now at the center of everything that we do through the Perfect Circle of Care. But, we also transitioned ahead of the rest of most hospitals across the United States by delivering care in the most appropriate location, whether it's in the home, in a skilled nursing facility, in an outpatient clinic or a physician's office.

I spoke about many of the initiatives that we put in place, such as putting registered nurse transitionists in skilled nursing facilities, engaging our early adopter physicians through the President's Clinical Quality Council, adding primary care offices where our most vulnerable patients reside, creating the Center for Clinical Resources to address the needs of our patients with multiple comorbidities (COPD, CHF, Diabetes, hypertension, etc.) and the addition of a team of community health workers going into patient homes.

These are just a few of the many initiatives we have added over the last three years at WMHS. We have demonstrated that the big H is more about the delivery of care under a value-based approach rather than a physical building, even though ours is a nice new hospital building that has become only one component of our new coordinated system of care.

Barry Ronan became the executive vice president and CEO of the Western Maryland Health System when it was created in April 1996, and served as its president and CEO since January 2000.

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