The announcement of our Services Agreement with Carolinas HealthCare System is excellent news for New Hanover Regional Medical Center, and m for our patients throughout Southeastern North Carolina.
Regular readers of this blog will know that we are dealing with unprecedented challenges in health care, both from a changing market that demands improved quality at less cost, and from state and federal governments that are paying hospitals less as they try to balance their budgets.
Hospitals have got to find efficient ways to get better and cost less, and they need to be willing to try new ideas to accomplish this. We cannot keep doing things the same way and expect the same results.
This brings us to our recent announcement. With this Services Agreement with CHS, we can access the best of what this nationally recognized public hospital system has to offer in terms of operational and clinical expertise, quality improvement, and savings from group purchasing. At the same time, none of the cherished features of New Hanover Regional Medical Center that have inspired loyalty, ownership and passion from our residents for 47 years will change.
In other words, we will enjoy many of the best aspects of a public hospital system that shares our values of providing quality care to all regardless of ability to pay … without any change in our ownership, the way we choose our board, or who our employees report to. The agreement has no impact on the management of the hospital or financial incentives for any NHRMC employee. It changes none of our physician relationships, has no impact on the price of our services, and has no bearing on where patients receive treatment. No jobs will be impacted.
What the agreement will do is even more exciting. In short, this consulting arrangement will save us millions of dollars and allow us to stay ahead of rapid changes brought on by the Affordable Care Act and other market forces - while also allowing us to become a better hospital by helping us solve common issues and challenges most hospitals face.
How will this agreement help us do this? Here are just some of the ways:
- We will have immediate access to CHS experts on clinical, technological and other management areas, which means we can reduce our own consulting costs.
- The participation in group purchasing by CHS and NHRMC creates tremendous opportunities for discounts. There are many items we both use that we can buy in such volume that vendors will be willing to give us discounts that can be re-invested in both organizations.
- CHS and NHRMC can share with each other how we achieve certain quality outcomes and how we standardize processes to control costs. These benefits will flow both ways. We are among industry leaders in several quality care areas and our protocols may benefit any of CHS’s 32 hospitals that it owns or manages.
- At the same time, the CHS system includes many hospitals roughly our size that are dealing with the same issues we are. The opportunity to brainstorm with them on how to solve common issues is invaluable.
- We can pursue clinical opportunities with any number of CHS services that are nationally acclaimed. The first already in progress is having our NHRMC Rehabilitation Hospital and Outpatient Services work with Carolinas Rehabilitation Network. We can work together, share best practices and benefit from collaborating with one of the nation’s largest non-profit rehabilitation providers that includes an academic training center and a brain injury fellowship. This is just one of many relationship opportunities that could benefit our patients every day.
- We can participate in clinical research trials now affiliated with CHS, greatly expanding access for our patients to the latest emerging treatments in quality care.
The Services Agreement does not mandate that NHRMC subscribe to any particular service offered by CHS, but does provide the potential to do so, to be used at our direction. CHS has touted this as a “new kind of collaboration” unlike those with its other hospital partners. We are honored and proud that this organization chose us for this unique relationship.
We believe we gain the best our industry has to offer while not having to change any part of who we are. From our perspective, this news couldn’t be any better. Look for nothing but good things to develop from this.
For the past 10 years, Jack Barto has been President and CEO at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, a 769-bed regional referral medical center serving Southeastern North Carolina. The medical center is licensed as a Level II Trauma Center and provides emergency medical services for New Hanover County. Its unique array of specialty services includes cardiac care, oncology, and neurology, and standalone hospitals for women’s and children’s services, orthopedic care, psychiatric care and inpatient rehabilitation. To learn more about NHRMC, please visit www.nhrmc.org. Questions and comments can be sent to [email protected]. Like NHRMC on Facebook: www.facebook.com/nhrmcnc, or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/nhrmc.