Keeping with the theme of the blog I posted earlier in the week I want to continue a discussion on controlling the cost of care. In my previous blog I spoke of ways each of us can control our health care costs and how healthy choices; diet, exercise, stress control can all help reduce our personal cost of health care thus reducing health care costs in general. Today I want to focus on how the provider can help to reduce the cost of care and I want to specifically focus on how hospitals can begin to think beyond the bed.
Hospitals are designed to care for the sick but I believe hospitals need to start thinking beyond the bed and focus on getting outside the walls of the building by getting involved in their community to improve population health.
GVMH is already taking steps to make this happen. Over the past year GVMH has introduced the role of a Care Transitions Coordinator to the health care spectrum. The coordinator is responsible for following “high risk” patients once they leave the hospital. I use the term “high risk” for lack of a better term, I am referring to patients who have a high likelihood of being readmitted within 30 days of discharge based on their diagnosis. The coordinator helps to coach the patient on medication usage, illness prevention, disease control and provider follow-up.
Recently, GVMH initiated a community health needs assessment process. The process has three steps and two of the three are complete. The first step was to gather data on community health problems and administer a survey of community health needs. The next step was to host a town-hall meeting to get feedback on the survey results and ask participants at the meeting to prioritize their perceptions of community health needs. The final step will be for GVMH to work with other providers and human services agencies to create action steps to address the concerns identified in steps one and two. The action plan meeting is scheduled for March 17.
GVMH continues to support the wellness centers in Clinton and Windsor with staff and funding for equipment. The wellness center in Clinton is located in the community center and the Windsor Wellness Center is in the Windsor Clinic. Both services provide free or low-cost options for residents to have access to exercise equipment and exercise professionals. Beyond wellness center support GVMH provides ongoing educational opportunities for residents of our service areas. Most of the education programs are designed to help people better understand what they can do to be healthier.
It’s important for hospitals to think beyond the bed and it’s important for hospitals to be health care providers as opposed to illness treaters. It’s more cost effective to create health than to treat illness and providing services and options to improve health will help to reduce the cost of health care.