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Hiltz: Hospital could help attract jobs

Springfield Regional working to be a Top 100 hospital.

Community Mercy Health Partners CEO Paul Hiltz on Monday said a Springfield Regional Medical Center that can provide high-quality health care at a lower cost “could be a key selling point” for those trying to bring businesses and jobs to the community.

Speaking to an attentive meeting of Springfield Rotarians in the lobby of the Clark State Community College Performing Arts Center, Hiltz also spelled out his strategy for making Springfield Regional a top 100 hospital in the midst of what he called a “sea change” in health care.

Hiltz said the hospital’s current key initiatives are increasing employee engagement and physician satisfaction to produce a “culture of teamwork and service” while keeping a close eye on patient satisfaction.

A year after Medicare’s Hospital Compare surveys indicated Springfield Regional was lagging far behind other area hospitals in patient satisfaction, he said the leadership is committed to moving all those scores to the top 25 percent and some into the top 10 percent.

If the hospital is able to build what he called a “culture of excellence” among its staff, “we feel very confident all the financial pieces will fall in line.”

He added that quality health care in this era involves three things: “people, buildings and processes,” something he said will make Catholic Health Partners, which owns the hospital, an asset to the local community.

Instead of thinking about individual hospitals, he said, “We are now talking about networks of care.”

Hiltz said that under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, so-called Accountable Care Organizations will not be paid not on the basis of individual procedures, as has been the practice, by for “population health management.”

The question now, he said, is, “How do we take care of a population and help them improve their health inside and outside the walls of a hospital building?”

As an incentive for those systems, Hiltz said, Medicare has agreed to split with those organizations what savings they can generate by efficient management, so long as they continue to meet 33 measures of quality care.

“If we can do it cheaper, we can share in those savings,” he said. “We all have the incentive to improve our health care and lower the cost.”

One element of creating those savings is increasing the number of doctors who work for the hospital and in coordination with specialists that are also part of its system.

The hospital and doctors in its system would be linked by an electronic medical record system also available to Medicare.

Although doctors traditionally have favored independent practices over being hospital employees, Hiltz said, “most of the newer doctors … want to be employed by a health system.”

Less on-call time is attractive to them, he said, but “one of the big attractors to young doctors are these electronic medical records. That’s where they want to be.

Hiltz also said in the new era of networked care, Springfield Regional will benefit from being a part of Catholic Health Partners, which built and owns the hospital and is the largest system in Ohio.

“That kind of network is going to give us a chance to deal with big commercial insurers” in the health care field and with the “health exchanges” that people will be part of if they do not get health insurance through work.

“If you’re not a fairly large system,” he said, “you’re not going to be able to participate in an exchange.”

During a question-and-answer session, the audience also learned that:

• After a “pause” in the process, an announcement should come in the next two weeks about a downsized medical office building attached to the hospital.

• Demolition of the former Community Hospital has been slowed by asbestos removal and now is expected to finish in August rather than June.

• Springfield Regional is still considering but has not yet decided how to work with urgent care centers that are not part of its network. Although those may compete with the system for business, they also may help help the hospital by keeping patients from being treated in the hospital’s emergency room, which tends to cost more.

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