"Some of it will take place outside the four walls, some of it won't. It'll try to address issues outside the four walls, but it's really services and resources dedicated to prevention and health and wellness," he says.
The way the Y partnership could work for a patient is that instead of getting a pill to lose weight, the patient would get a physician's order to see a nutritionist, then a physical activity coordinator. The orders would likely flow through physical therapy for reimbursement. The physical activity would take place at the Y's gym, as well as nutrition services if there is a kitchen set up. The Y would maintain its own identity and continue to operate separately, but nearby. Allen says Winona Health is considering donating a piece of property adjacent to the hospital for the project. He says it's coming at the right time because the local Y needs a new facility.
Allen also says the health and wellness service line would also include services like food and nutrition, health screenings, and other preventive services.
"Occupational health might end up there, because workplace health is a big deal and prevention is a big part of that. We're taking it from concept, and once we have enough things in place, we'll formally put them into a service line."
Allen says he looked at economic models predicting a $900 million increase in healthcare spending in the county over 10 years. In part by adding a new health and wellness service line, he projects Winona Health can reduce spending significantly and potentially attract new revenue through the new service line.
"Our goal," Allen says, "is to take $150 million–$200 million out of that increase. If we can, … you know a $12 million or $15 million investment in a facility is pretty small. That's a tenfold payback."
Allen also says the there's another reason the hospital needs to invest in health and wellness.
"Our mission is to improve the health and well-being of our community. Our mission is not to make money. I have to generate resources to make it pay, but right now, surgery, radiology, lab, those things are paying the bills. We have to start to siphon off a certain amount of investment to start to plug in to what's coming in the future, and it's core to our mission."
This article appears in the April 2013 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.