Hospitals Engaged in Battle for Delivery of Health Care

Article excerpt

Delivery of health care in Oklahoma is becoming more sophisticated, more complicated and more expansive almost on a daily basis, and hospitals have been forced to aggressively compete for the consumers' dollar.

This competition is forcing small and large hospitals alike to devise strategies to hold patient costs as low as possible while, at the same time, increasing income to cover those added expenses.

Two hospitals, Bethany General Hospital and Baptist Medical Center, probably are typical of the hospitals which have creatively met these needs.

Buzzwords for this new strategy are "quality care" and "patient needs." Possibly the newest buzzword for the health care delivery units in Oklahoma is "profits," even for the not-for-profit hospitals.

Administrators for both hospitals say strategies are working.

"We haven't raised our rates in three years, and we have no plans to do so this year," said Bethany General's Ron J. Sloan.

Sloan said this holding the line on room rates is directly attributilble to the profit-making ventures of the hospsital's subsidiary, Healthcare Dimensions of Oklahoma.

Healthcare Dimensions works with physicians to operate and manage private clinics on a for-profit basis as well as working with for-profit medical groups and organizations.

Possibly the most successful of these joint ventures, Sloan said, is Bethany Pavilion, a 40-bed psychiatric facility at the hospital. It is a joint venture between the municipal hospital and the profit-oriented Healthcare Services of America Inc.

Healthcare Dimensions also has joint ventures with the Family Medical Clinic in Yukon and Western Oaks Medical Center in Bethany.

The reason for these ventures is to convince physicians of the quality of the hospital so they will utilize the facilities when hospitalizing a patient.

Apparently, it's working for Sloan reports an increase in almost every category this fiscal year which began July 1.

Seven months into the year, the hospital has registered a 71 percent increase in patient days over the 12 month total of the previous fiscal year.

Sloan said he is expecting the hospital to have a net income of $1 million this fiscal year, based solely on increased business.

Thus far into the fiscal year, the hospital has exceeded patient revenues of all previous year-end totals since the hospital was established in 1970.

Officials at Baptist Medical Center created a parent company, Oklahoma Healthcare Corp., to provide services to help support the hospital.

Rex Levering, executive vice president of Oklahom Healthcare, said efficiency, new programs, networking with other health care providers and marketing strategies all are being used to hold the line on costs to patients.

Some of these programs reduce the time a patient must spend in the hospital.

An example of this type program is the out-patient surgical clinic nearing completion at Baptist.

"Right now, about 26 percent of all surgical procedures are performed on an out-patient basis," Levering said. "Within five years 50 to 60 percent of all surgerical procedures will be done this way. …