Heartland Health CEO Talks Value

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media , January 8, 2010

Demonstrating value goes back to our mission statement. We've promised the right care at the right place and at the right time with outcomes second to none. We want to be in the top decile for quality and safety measures, but bottom quartile for costs. We want to provide the community great care at less cost than others are--which is really the stated goal of healthcare reform. So we've used our Baldrige tools and expertise to improve processes across the hospital to save money. Where we can save money, we don't have to raise our rates as much. This year, we got a hospital value index award. St. Joseph is a town of about 75,000 and stable, and it's made up of hardworking families. We feel like we need to work hard for the best interests of the community.

HM: why do you think Heartland is best positioned under an environment that rewards outcomes and not procedures?

Laney: The Baldrige journey has to do with providing world-class quality and commitment to excellence. It forces you to plan how it's structured and working. That value proposition and attention to detail runs through the whole culture. My predecessor brought in talented individuals who were experts in Six Sigma and lean who can consult with divisions across the hospital and help them redesign processes. It's like having an internal consulting firm. Process improvement is something we do really well. We're a vertically integrated system where we have 125 physicians who are employed via the medical center--about 70% of our medical staff. Heartland Foundation is different from most in that it really isn't a fundraising vehicle. It's an entity that works on improving the health of the community by trying to reach children at a young age on things like character building and community involvement. So we're investing in those kids 50 years before they have health problems so they don't need the hospital as much.

I truly believe in my heart that an integrated system with a hospice and foundation and clinic are all working together to provide seamless medical care. That is the best model to manage a population's health. We're structured in a way to meet what I think are going to be changes in reimbursement and law coming down the pike. When they recruited me, they told me Heartland was a jewel, but it's a diamond. We've talked a lot about teamwork and group practice, and we put the needs of the patient first.

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Philip Betbeze is senior leadership editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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