Posted: 8:00 a.m. Sunday, July 7, 2013

Premier Health in beginning stages of “transformational change”


Premier Health in beginning stages of “transformational change” photo
James Pancoast, president and chief executive officer, Premier Health

By Chelsey Levingston

Staff Writer


Premier Health’s new business name is more than word play. It signifies the start of a transformation period for the parent health system of Atrium Medical Center and the first of many changes to come, said James Pancoast, Premier president and chief executive officer.

In recent months Premier Health dropped “Partners” from the end of the organization’s name. The rebranding comes after about a year of planning and represents the system’s efforts to shifts gears from a group of hospitals that take care of sick people to a network of doctors and services that focus on helping people live healthier lives, Pancoast said.

By ending the system’s name with the word “health,” Premier wants “health” to be the key word people remember when they think about organization.

The changes mean the physicians, hospital administrators and others within the organization are spending more time learning how to work together to keep people healthy, Pancoast said.

“The transformation is hospitals will still be a big part of the health system, but out in front of it will be physicians leading the way,” Pancoast said. “Throughout 2014 and ’15, some of the planning we’re doing will start getting implemented.”

Key provisions of the federal health care reform law go in effect in 2014, increasing the number of people with insurance coverage and changing the way hospitals and other health care facilities are reimbursed for their services. Health providers in the future will be paid based on meeting quality and outcome measures. Now pay is based on the volume of patients seen.

“The country believes the cost of health care in the United States is too high. There’s all these opinions on the Affordable Care Act, whether it’s good or bad, but I think it’s started in my opinion a movement in the country to lower costs of health care,” Pancoast said.

“Population health is really the only way we can get there,” he said.

Population health management means providers like Premier are looking at how to help patients exercise more, eat well and know their numbers as far as blood pressure and other things.

It’s a different way of doing things and if done right, as much as 20 to 30 percent of hospital admissions could be prevented, said Pancoast.

He’s quick to point out that 70 percent of admissions will still happen. No predictions say hospitals won’t exist in the future.

“No matter what the country does, people will still get sick. Helping people when they’re sick will always be a component of what we do,” Pancoast said. “In the future we believe health systems like ours have to help people stay healthy” as well.

In response to these changes, Premier Health is looking at how much access to services, the number of medical providers and new technologies.

“Maybe we’re out pushing harder to be in communities and getting people to come in rather than waiting,” Pancoast said. “It means we probably need more coverage with more health providers, physicians especially, than maybe in the past.”

“I think also what’s going to be happening is that over time we’re going to have to figure out, especially through technology, is how can people help monitor themselves?”

Premier Health, a nonprofit formed in 1995, is comprised of four hospitals: Middletown’s Atrium Medical Center, Miami Valley Hospital downtown including Miami Valley South in Centerville, Dayton’s Good Samaritan Hospital and Upper Valley Medical Center in Miami County, as well as outpatient locations and doctor practices throughout the region.

Atrium Medical had 1,649 full-time equivalent employees at the end of 2012.

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