In the most recent issue of Hospitals & Health Networks magazine, there is an article entitled, “Should Hospitals Learn from Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders?” I love this article that was written by Stanley Hupfeld because it puts into perspective what Western Maryland Health System has become. We have done what Trump and Sanders have successfully accomplished so far in this year’s presidential election. They are not the traditional presidential candidates; and in this upcoming election, a traditional approach pretty much counts for nothing.
At WMHS, we are no longer the traditional hospital. Sure, we still do surgery, we deliver babies, we have an Emergency Department and we care for patients who are acutely ill. But we are also the safety net for our region, we deliver care based on value instead of volume and more care is being delivered in alternate settings outside the acute care setting than ever before. We are delivering care in nursing homes, we provide coordination of our patients' care in physician offices, we provide follow-up care at no cost to patients in an effort to keep them out of the hospital and we grow fruits and vegetables for those who are most vulnerable in our community.
The two charts below depict how care is delivered in the traditional hospital, which is pretty much the great majority of hospitals across the country (although change is coming) and how it is delivered at WMHS. More care is now being delivered in partnership with others, many of whom were previously our competitors. We have reduced readmissions, unnecessary admissions, ED visits, ancillary utilization and short stays on the Observation Unit.
Six years ago when we started value-based care delivery at WMHS, there were over 1,970 patients accounting for $140 million of our cost each year. Last year, it was 1,300 patients accounting for $80 million of our cost. Our patients are being cared for better and many who are the sickest of the sick are now experiencing a better quality of life. Moving away from the traditional approach has certainly benefitted Trump and Sanders so far. We have been bucking the traditional approach to care delivery for the last six years and our patients and our health system have certainly benefitted.