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Re-engineer the Health System, CEOs Urge

jack kolosky_1.jpg

The U.S. health-care system has begun a huge transformation from a cottage industry noted for waste and inefficiency to one that rewards value, four Florida health executives said Thursday.

The CEOs -- two from hospitals, two from physician networks --appeared on a panel before dozens of insurance specialists at the Tampa Bay Association of Health Underwriters.

Far from objecting to the   Affordable Care Act, the panelists said it doesn’t go far enough in restraining costs, given demographics of an aging population. In fact, the problem is worldwide, said John Harding, regional CEO at Florida Hospital Tampa.

“The math doesn’t work – it’s a math problem and a lifestyle  problem,”  he said, referring to the obesity epidemic.  “It doesn’t have anything to do with politics.”

Jack Kolosky, CEO of Moffitt Cancer Center, said health care needs to emulate the airline industry,  which re-engineered itself to lower the cost per transaction and instituted checklists for safety.

“We need to think about things in a different way,” he said.

Florida Medical Clinic, a multi-county, multi-specialty network with 140 physicians, is an example of a system undergoing real change, said President Joe Delatorre. The group has a shared-risk contract with Medicare that returns savings to both of them if the group gets good outcomes and has money left.

Changing the way physicians are paid is a must if you want value,  Delatorre said. He uses “physician extenders” such as nurse-practitioners to help doctors be more productive.

“We have to change the health-care delivery system,” he said. “We have to increase capacity.”

Another speaker, Mike Shumer of Crucial Care in Jacksonville, said his emergency-medicine  doctors  offer triage for urgent cases, admitting patients who need hospital care and fixing up the others so they can go home.   He said the average emergency-department visit at a hospital costs $1,300, while at Crucial Care it’s $400.

“For every patient we do admit, we prevent 1.6 (admissions),” Shumer said. “That gets the attention of payers.”

--Health News Florida, journalism for a healthy state, is a service of WUSF Public Media. Questions? Comments? Contact Editor Carol Gentry at 813-974-8629 or 727-410-3266, or at cgentry@wusf.org.

Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.After serving two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Colombia, Gentry worked for a number of newspapers including The Wall Street Journal, St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times), the Tampa Tribune and Orlando Sentinel. She was a Kaiser Foundation Media Fellow in 1994-95 and earned an Master's in Public Administration at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 1996. She directed a journalism fellowship program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for four years.Gentry created Health News Florida, an independent non-profit health journalism publication, in 2006, and served as editor until September, 2014, when she became a special correspondent. She and Health News Florida joined WUSF in 2012.
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