The hospital-community relationship is changing

A successful relationship between hospitals and communities relies on high level partnerships, meeting healthcare consumer expectations and a sophisticated outpatient strategy to keep community members healthy, and out of the hospital.

Rob Bloom, CFO of Carthage Area Hospital, is seeing outpatient growth as a key component of the hospital's strategy. He told Becker's the hospital's outpatient revenue has grown by 25 percent and has become "arguably the primary relationship with the community" it serves.

"Outpatient revenue now accounts for 90 percent of the total revenue of the hospital," said Mr. Bloom. "This growth has been driven by investments in primary and specialty care, as well as lower cost of care settings, such as the ambulatory surgery center."

Carthage Area Hospital's outpatient strategy will continue to evolve based on patient demands and hospital needs. Outpatient surgery is typically reimbursed at a lower rate than the same procedures at the inpatient hospital, and financial leaders are keeping a close eye on new opportunities as the percentage of outpatient surgeries and procedures grow. Sg2 predicted in a report released earlier this year that outpatient surgical volumes are expected to grow 18 percent over the next 10 years.

"Moving forward, a key strategic driver to navigate this environment is a focus on ensuring that the finance, quality and clinical functions of the hospital are working collaboratively to delivery value in the community," Mr. Bloom said.

Fort Myers, Fla.-based Lee Health began a similar "transformative evolution" in its outpatient strategy several years ago to address the needs of patients and the changing healthcare landscape.

Lee Health's executives recognized patients preferred outpatient services and strategically reevaluated its approach to outpatient care so it would be accessible and patient-centered. The early focus on outpatient care proved advantageous, which has had a positive impact on the system's patients and finances.

"We think we've found the secret sauce and have developed a blueprint for comprehensive outpatient services in one building that delivers a superior level of coordinated care and exceptional patient experience through the right mix of services," said Larry Antonuci, MD, president of Lee Health. "We've determined that we are meeting 95 percent of the local community's needs without the expense of hospital beds. We plan to build similar facilities at strategic locations throughout our marketplace."

Beyond developing the outpatient services in one building, Lee Health aims to stay on the forefront of digital transformation. A cornerstone of the system's strategy is embracing innovative technologies and investing in telemedicine solutions, remote patient monitoring platforms and digital health tools to enhance virtual care capabilities.

Lee Health is developing an app designed to centralize health management tools into one central platform.

"It goes beyond a singular patient portal and allows your health data across physicians, connected health platforms and wearable devices to be together in one place," Dr. Antonucci said. "Overall, Lee Health is embracing the paradigm shift in healthcare and is dedicated to being a leader in developing high-quality outpatient care. Our commitment to innovative and patient-centered approaches will enable us to thrive in this evolving healthcare landscape."

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