Hospital CEOs push for more-coordinated health services

Four hospital system CEOs in Detroit are recommending changes and the development of a master plan to encourage more coordination of services between several nonprofit health organizations that serve as the medical safety net for Southeast Michigan.

To reduce subsidies paid to the health agencies and improve their effectiveness, the hospital CEO group has asked Vernice Davis Anthony, CEO of the Greater Detroit Area Health Council, to work with the other organizations to come up with a plan, said Nancy Schlichting, CEO of Henry Ford Health System.

“How do we focus the efforts of the organizations and economize as much as we can?” said Schlichting, who noted that many of Detroit’s health plans, auto companies and health systems subsidize the organizations.

Schlichting said the health agencies include GDAHC, the Detroit Wayne County Health Authority, Voices of Detroit Initiative and the Michigan Cover the Uninsured Network.

“We believe each organization should develop a set of core services and focus on those to eliminate duplication,” Schlichting said. “Some organizations may work more closely together on joint programs.”

The other hospital CEOs in the Detroit group are Patricia Maryland of St. John Providence Health System in Warren, Brian Connolly of Dearborn-based Oakwood Healthcare and Mike Duggan of the Detroit Medical Center.

Duggan said the effort to get the organizations to eliminate redundancies and conduct joint planning will benefit everyone in Detroit.

“We need to focus our efforts around key issues to prepare for health reform and Medicaid expansion,” Schlichting said.

Anthony said GDAHC’s board is involved and supportive of the effort to reshape the organization.

“We are all interested in ways to address the underserved who need safety-net services and to develop a stronger effort for the citizens in the Southeast Michigan region,” said Anthony.

“We need to all use limited resources more effectively,” she said. “This is a very positive collaborative effort and involves us all taking a closer look at all the organizations.”

Anthony said discussions are under way to merge the Cover the Uninsured Network, which works to increase awareness of the needs of the uninsured, with GDAHC. The network is headed by Doug Halladay, who announced in 2010 that he will retire for medical reasons.

“We have a lot of priorities with health care reform like access to primary care services, health care workforce capacity” and rising medical costs, Anthony said.

GDAHC, a coalition of 70 organizations representing health care, business, government and labor, has several roles including coordinating regional health planning efforts and monitoring quality and health costs.

Since 2005, GDAHC’s major program has been its Save Lives Save Dollars program. The goal is to achieve 100 percent adherence to selected evidence-based clinical practice guidelines, which is designed to save lives and reduce cost growth by 1 percent to 3 percent.

Formed in 2003, the Detroit Wayne County Health Authority works with hospitals, physicians, clinics and health plans to improve the safety net for the uninsured in Detroit and Wayne County.

Over the past year, the authority has been lobbying the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for funding to expand the number of federally qualified health centers. Six organizations recently applied for funding for the health centers in Detroit.

Chris Allen, the health authority’s executive director, also has been leading efforts to persuade Medicaid health plans to send more Medicaid patients to the health centers in Detroit. Most clinics in Detroit provide free or subsidized care, and Medicaid funding can help subsidize the uninsured.

Starting in January, Allen said, the health authority will coordinate services even more so with Voices of Detroit when the chair of that organization’s executive committee, Paul Szilagyi, also becomes the co-chair of the health authority’s primary care network council. Szilagyi is regional vice president of ambulatory and physician practices with Henry Ford Medical Group.

“We want to have the right partners together around the table,” Allen said. “We have had discussions the past year with GDAHC and Voices of Detroit, and the alignment we have today is working quite well.”

Voices of Detroit, headed up by Executive Director Lucille Smith, is a private-public partnership that includes hospitals, clinics, Wayne County government, city of Detroit and other non-profit health agencies.

Over the past several years, Voices of Detroit has been creating medical homes for the uninsured, tracking health indicators and working with providers to expand care to the uninsured.

Jay Greene: (313) 446-0325, jgreene@crain.com

Source Link – Crain’s Business

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