August 21, 2014

Future of Healthcare

Closing Thoughts: Calm, Patient Leadership

Mark R. Howard | 5/1/2010

Hugh Greene
“Part of the problem,” says Hugh Greene, CEO of Baptist Health in Jacksonville, “is our own level of expectation.” [Photo: Paul Figura]
Amid the ugly trench warfare that marked the passage of the federal healthcare reform legislation, Hugh Greene, president and CEO of Baptist Health in Jacksonville, contributed a calm, non-partisan voice to the discussion. Greene made more than 40 presentations to business and civic groups throughout north Florida, explaining in layman’s terms the problems that had come to define the healthcare system and the policy options that Congress was considering.

Greene soft-pedaled his own views: In general, he favored a comprehensive, rather than piecemeal, approach to reform but opposed a public option that would have left the government with exclusive control of pricing. He was dismayed that the legislation didn’t include malpractice reform. Instead, he patiently walked audiences through an even-handed discussion of what he called the three “buckets’’ of reform: Changes in insurance coverage, healthcare financing and delivery of care. His style and substance won Greene a lot of respect: After one speech to a business group, he was approached, independently, by both Democratic and Republican Party officials who’d heard him; they both asked Greene to repeat his talk to their respective party groups.

Under Greene, Baptist has developed a comprehensive system that encompasses five hospitals, home health, inpatient and outpatient behavioral health, and urgent care through a joint venture with Solantic. Greene expects the biggest post-reform change for Baptist will be in the healthcare payment system “from one based on the volume of care provided to one based on the efficiency of an entire episode of care.” Electronic records, he says, will be essential to coordinating care among all providers across the continuum — anticipating that change, Baptist already has converted three of its hospitals to all-electronic records, with the other two to be converted within two years.

“It is really not surprising that we have had difficulty agreeing on appropriate reform to our healthcare system,” Greene says. “Let’s face it. Part of the problem is our own level of expectation. While most Americans agree that the present system was not sustainable, a large majority also insists that their own healthcare remain unchanged. The opportunity and challenge we now face is to make the necessary changes to reform the system without dismantling the delivery of healthcare that we know and value.”

Tags: Healthcare

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