By Kyle Skogman
The Mercy Medical Center board of trustees has long viewed our hospital as a critical community asset with the long-standing goal of remaining independent, with local leaders making the key decisions for the organization and the health care of our citizens.
The changes in health care over the next few years will be massive and challenging even for large health care systems. It became apparent to the Mercy Board that as an independent hospital we will need to enter into effective collaborative agreements with other, larger health care providers to jointly work on the challenges of escalating costs, improving quality and maintaining patient satisfaction.
With that in mind, Mercy began exploring ways to collaborate with Genesis Health System, Mercy Health Networks and University of Iowa Health Care.
The four members have formed the University of Iowa Health Alliance (UIHA). The Alliance will include more than 50 hospitals and more than 160 clinics, creating the largest statewide health network in Iowa. In the future, Medicare and Medicaid may require participating organizations to take on more risk for the health of Iowans and the associated cost.
By sharing data and best practices we will be able to create economies reducing cost, improving quality and enhancing patient satisfaction.
For example, we estimate that each of the four Alliance members would have spent $9 million to meet upcoming regulations including IT, staffing and other associated costs.
In the private business sector, we are always looking for ways to network and learn best practices from others in our respective fields. This new alliance between non-profit health care organizations on the statewide level affords that same opportunity — allowing Mercy and each of the other organization to maintain their independence, while benefiting from each other’s complementary strengths and the sharing of resources. For the patient, that means better care coordination and a road map for lowering health care costs.
As Mercy President and CEO Tim Charles aptly stated during the public announcement of the UIHA, “There isn’t a business in the state, small or large, including our own that hasn’t been dealing with the escalating cost of care. We’re hearing that message loud and clear, but it’s incumbent upon those of us who provide these services, to find new models, develop new models and to deliver those models to the state so that we can collectively begin to deliver health care … in a much more cost-effective manner.”
Mercy has been recognized as one of the nation’s leading providers of high quality and cost-effective health care and a Top 100 hospital in patient experience. UI Health Care is recognized nationally for its top-ranked clinical care, its highly-regarded College of Medicine with many programs ranked in the Top 20, and more than $220 million in annual research funding. Genesis Health System and Mercy Health Network bring size and strengths to the table.
The Mercy Board believes the Alliance looks to be the formula for a successful marriage of resources to deal with complexities of upcoming health care reform. It makes good business sense and, more important, good people sense.
Kyle Skogman is president of Skogman Homes and chairman of Mercy Medical Center’s board of trustees. He can be contacted at email@example.com