Hospital Leaders Ponder Impact of Political Uncertainty

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , July 2, 2012

That means reducing cost, improving communication through electronic medical record systems, aligning physicians, and working at every level to improve quality of care and patient experience.

That's the opinion of Rulon Stacey, immediate past president of the American College of Healthcare Executives and now president of the newly formed University of Colorado Health, which includes some 1,500 beds in five hospitals from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs.

"We've been dealing with these kinds of public policy tug-of-wars now for such a long time, and you can't make meaningful strategic decisions on a public policy that is so volatile," he said on Friday. "You just can't do that. So the trick then becomes to identify things you know are happening independent of the policy debates."

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Like finding as many creative ways to reduce costs. "All organizations are being more judicious about how we spend money today than we were five years ago," Stacey says. "I don't know of any hospital that is banking their future on the fact that reimbursement in the future is going to go up. So yes, our job is going to be to decrease costs and increase quality simultaneously."

For Stacey, that has meant forging joint operating agreements between Poudre Valley Hospital, the Medical Center of the Rockies, the University of Colorado Hospital, and in the works, Memorial Health System in Colorado Springs, to become University of Colorado Health. The venture enables a massive electronic medical record system linking patients and providers along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.


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