Academic journal article Frontiers of Health Services Management

Providers Can Meet Community Health Needs as Independent Partners

Academic journal article Frontiers of Health Services Management

Providers Can Meet Community Health Needs as Independent Partners

Article excerpt

Like other hospitals, Davis Medical Center (DMC) finds itself weathering the storm of reform and other modern challenges. Our rural West Virginia community population growth is stagnant, especially among millennials and Generation Xers; we treat primarily an aging population with chronic diseases and complex health needs. The economic outlook appears sluggish, the unemployment rate is above the national average, poor health behaviors are the norm, and the future of the state's Medicaid expansion leaves us hospital administrators wondering how today's increasing enrollments will be funded tomorrow.

Fortunately, in the 1990s, the administrators of Davis Memorial Hospital (as DMC was then known) took a strategic approach to managed care reform by developing a regional health system, Davis Health System (DHS). They aimed to create a clinically integrated network (CIN) with more robust and locally available resources, both operational and financial, to meet community healthcare needs. The system model positioned the hospital for growth beyond acute care and for outreach beyond its primary service county.

Today, new challenges have emerged. Focused on the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's Triple Aim of improving the care experience, improving population health, and reducing costs, community hospitals are balancing new demands of technology, consumerism, competition, recruitment, and payment reform. As the feature articles in this issue of Frontiers of Health Services Management emphasize, the model of the 1990s must now transform itself; hospitals must look beyond their own individual capabilities to the development of a network delivery system capable of maximizing the strengths of a neighborhood ofsmaller healthcare providers who share a commitment to local care.

Snapshot: More Than a Community Hospital

DMC is the only hospital in Randolph County, West Virginia, which covers slightly more than 1,000 square miles and has a population of 29,000. DMC is the second-largest employer in the county and a key economic driver for the region, bringing value to the recruitment of educators, businesses, and manufacturers.

An 80-bed acute care hospital, DMC is the flagship of DHS. The emergency department sees patients from a six-county service area and logs more than 30,000 visits annually. DMC delivers babies, performs surgeries, and maintains round-the-clock laboratory and radiology services. An outpatient center constructed in 2014 houses a large family medicine practice and specialty care for orthopedics, general surgery, pediatrics, gastroenterology, pain management, and podiatry.

DHS also encompasses

* a partnership established in 2017 with West Virginia University (WVU) Medicine, the state's largest academic medical center, for expanded heart and vascular care, and a joint venture with WVU Medicine to upgrade DHS's radiation and medical oncology programs;

* Broaddus Hospital, a critical-access hospital (CAH) in neighboring Barbour County, which operates six medical beds, six swing beds, and a skilled nursing and long-term care unit with 60 beds; and

* retail pharmacies, urgent care centers, home respiratory and home oxygen services, a durable medical equipment store, a chronic care clinic, and a sleep center.

To access larger hospitals, such as WVU Medicine in Morgantown, well outside DHS's primary service area, patients must travel up to 100 miles. The hardships of travel, not to mention cost and inconvenience, significantly elevate the importance of local care.

Driving Value Through Partnership

DHS leadership understands that managing population health, improving quality, and lowering cost-value as defined by the Triple Aim-drive strategy and partnership alignment.

In her feature article describing the Navicent Health experience, Saunders prompts readers to consider how an affiliation partnership "can provide a value proposition for the entities involved. …

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