Throughout Challenging Health-Care Environment, Baptist Heath Must Embrace Change While Remaining Focused on Our People, Our Communities, and Our Values
By Troy Wells, President and CEO, Baptist Health
In 2018, Baptist Health, like many other health-care systems across the country, must navigate through a complex and frequently changing health-care environment.
Whether the issue is the ongoing public-policy debate about the future of the Affordable Care Act, cost increases and how to pay for health care, administrative complexity from federal regulations that are driving up costs, the dramatic rise in chronic disease especially in Arkansas, the changing choices and behavior of health-care consumers, or keeping up with new innovations in health-care technology, we must be constantly agile and forward-thinking in our strategic plan.
All of these forces are coming together to create an increasingly challenging environment for health-care providers in 2018 and beyond.
Given the forces and uncertainties present in our environment, how does a health system respond?
At Baptist Health, we are a faith-based, not-for-profit healing ministry –– which means we will always focus on our values, the people we serve, and the well-being of our community no matter what other hurdles are in our way.
Trust and collaboration with other health-care partners have also always been important, and they will be even more important in the future. As we move into 2018, Baptist Health will be increasingly involved in partnerships that can help us continue to serve more Arkansans and fulfill our mission.
Whether it’s our continued work with our physicians and Baptist Health Physician Partners or our new and promising partnership with UAMS, our ability to work with others and be a trusted partner to them will help us make sure that more people in Arkansas get the care that they need.
For 2018, our focus remains on serving people, improving our workforce, and establishing meaningful partnerships that bring value to the people we serve. The areas of focus from our Baptist Health 2020 strategic plan continue to be our guide for how we improve the health of Arkansans and serve people.
Building on the Success of 2017
At Baptist Health, we believe that our most valuable resource is our people. In an environment with a rising demand for a clinical workforce, it is vital that we keep our incredibly talented employees to remain the health-care provider of choice.
The employees we hire at Baptist Health are among the best in the market, and other factors such as the Baptist Health College, our nursing orientation, and the opportunities our employees have to take care of patients puts our employees in high demand from other organizations.
We work really hard on keeping our employee turnover low, and we’ve had a lot of success in the past year in doing just that thanks to new ways of supporting our employees as well as a progressive change to our patient care technician program.
We have all had an increasingly greater focus on clinical quality and patient safety, and that focus has resulted in some really good outcomes for our patients. In the past two years, we’ve moved our system mortality rate well below the expected level and we’ve been able to maintain these low mortality rates.
Baptist Health’s collaboration with UAMS goes back many years, but in 2017 the two health systems formalized a landmark alliance to offer a wider range of educational opportunities as well as more integrated and effective clinical care to benefit all Arkansans.
The past year was also our first full year of operations at BHMC-Conway, and we are encouraged by the continued growth in services being offered in our newest hospital. Inpatient growth has been steady, and surgery and ER volumes continue to grow at a very favorable rate.
In 2016, we began expanding our strategy of improving access for the community through the opening of urgent care centers. In 2017, we opened three more of these centers –– one in Jacksonville, one in Benton, and one in Cabot –– to bring our total number of these locations up to five.
Another way we are expanding access is through our telehealth program. Utilizing our existing technical platform, we added three more specialties in 2017 that brought our offerings up to eight.
Our strategic focus area of population health is about being able to identify a discreet group of individuals (by insurance group or by other means) and design more effective health care to improve quality and reduce costs. We also do this where we can align a different payment system either with an insurer or with a government payer.
Last year was the first full year of our PACE (Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) program in which Baptist Health receives a fixed payment each month for each individual enrolled and in return is at clinical and financial risk for all of the needs of individuals enrolled in this program, who are some of our community’s most vulnerable patients and are typically elderly, low income, and medically frail.
We operate PACE in partnership with Carelink, and I am so proud of our ministry with this program. This also has real value in terms of learning how to manage health and social needs under a fixed-payment program.
Looking Ahead to 2018
Now, as we look ahead to 2018 and beyond, there are a few initiatives that I’d like to briefly mention.
First, our health system is committed to the people we serve and providing them with safe, high-quality care. As we move forward into 2018, our health system is working to improve the care of our patients with sepsis and other life-threatening infections.
As we continue to focus on our population-health efforts, Baptist Health, in partnership with UAMS, will launch our first Accountable Care Organization.
Working with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation Center, this Accountable Care Organization will contract with the federal government to care for a discreet number of Medicare beneficiaries with the goal of measuring and improving the quality of care and reducing the total cost of care for the program.
We know that as we continue to be challenged by new health-care competitors that we must find new and innovative ways to stay connected with our loyal patients and make care more accessible.
That is why in 2018 we are embarking on a journey to create a new digital-access strategy for our patients and communities. We want to give people better and quicker access to professionals and services that meet all their health-care needs.
While Baptist Health continues to invest in population health and new technology, we know that smart growth will continue to drive success at Baptist Health. By serving more people, we can continue our mission of faith-based healing and serving Arkansans.
Baptist Health remains committed to our faith-based, not-for-profit mission –– which means we are focused on our people, our community, and our values.
In this challenging environment that we exist in today, we are also committed to being an organization embracing change and innovation, and as you can see we are making strategic steps that will enable us to thrive in the future.
As we look toward that future, we are, simply put, a community of people driven to serve others and uphold our values.