An advocate among senior leaders
At Barnabas Health, one of those champions has been Patrick Ahearn, the system's chief operating officer and former chief financial officer. "The cost of healthcare is unsustainable, and it's not a surprise that something has to be done and that we have to figure out how to do more with less," Ahearn says.
Ahearn notes that despite having spent the bulk of his career as a "finance guy," he has always put an emphasis on providing quality patient care.
"I don't talk about money. I talk about doing it better and improving quality and efficiency. If we can do that, we'll make money and be able to survive," he says, citing examples such as reducing readmissions and hospital acquired infection rates and setting protocols for appropriate medical testing as particular areas of focus at Barnabas.
Ahearn agrees with Larkin that the move toward a pay-for-performance reimbursement environment is bringing finance and quality together with a common purpose and says Barnabas' immediate goal is to be in the 90th percentile or above for all quality metrics.
"Only if you have your head in the sand do you not understand that change is afoot… It's a challenge, but at the end of the day, I truly believe we are responsible for the health of the community," he says.
The health system is using data analytics tools to reach its objectives, Ahearn adds.