A challenge that becomes increasingly complex with each passing year is striking the balance between financial strength and excellent, safe patient care. Finding that right balance going forward will require us to think and act in new and different ways. More than ever, we must be innovative in our approach
to improving the value (better outcomes for less money) of the care we deliver. It is not easy, and it is likely to get more difficult in the months to come. The entire business model of health care in this country is being turned on its head as we make the necessary transformation from a world where volumewas rewarded to a world where value will be rewarded. We intend to take
a leadership role in this transformation.
Last year, we delineated four elements of
our mission (Delivering health with care)
that keep us focused on our pursuit of excellence, even as we create new models of care. Those elements – patients, providers, people, and purpose (known as the 4Ps) – are the roadmap to ensure that we stay on course in the months to come. As we face increasing economic and regulatory pressures, they
remind us that the patient is at the center of all we do; that our providers must have what they need to deliver efficient, value-driven care; that all our people (employees) are part of the care team and each has a different contribution to make; and our purposeis to remain financially strong so that we support both our academic mission
and commitment to our community.
Our investment in
LifeChart, our new EHR, is one prominent example of our commitment to transforming how care is delivered. In addition to its many benefits to patients and physicians, it has powerful analytic capabilities. As the only health care system in the region with a single, enterprise wide EHR,
Lifespan is well positioned to take the lead in what is referred to as “population management” and “accountable care”—namely, caring differently for large sets of patients in a more value-driven, efficient manner. For example, if we see a trend that increasing numbers of patients are at higher risk for
type-2 diabetes, we can do more to educate not only our patients but also the public about ways to prevent diabetes, thereby lowering hospital admissions and lowering costs to the entire system. Another example is identifying patients at high risk to develop a particular type of cancer and intervening (or screening)
before the cancer is in an advanced stage. Finally, since all of the patient’s information is in one location, we have the potential to eliminate wasteful spending through the avoidance of unnecessary and duplicative medical testing. These are just a few examples of the potential that lies ahead for us as a
system as we more fully deploy LifeChart in our goal of value driven care.
Another way we are enhancing care and making it more cost-effective is through closer relationships with our physician partners, both community and academic-based, and a renewed system-wide emphasis on primary care. Studies have documented that the more coordinated a patient’s care is, the better the outcomes and the
lower the overall cost of that care. One example of where that is taking place is within our Lifespan Physician Group (LPG). As more physicians join this physician-led, physician-governed practice, the communication, coordination and collaboration among those physicians (caring for patients they have in common)
improves enormously. Since its creation, LPG has grown to over 400 employees including more than 300 providers, making it the largest multi-specialty practice in the state that includes primary care, pediatric, psychiatric, OB/GYN, surgical and various subspecialty providers. As of this writing, a
number of other physician groups are expressing a keen interest in joining as well. Having a large physician group practice closely aligned with a health care system is a fundamental prerequisite for succeeding in the new world of health care delivery. A similar amount of productive collaboration is
also under way with our academic foundations, paralleling the work going on in LPG. More to come on this very important topic in the future.
Creating new models of care is essential to transform our system, but they must be paired with new models of payment to ensure long-term success. One without the other, doesn’t work. An example of doing this the right way is our new collaboration with Tufts Health Plan, a very highly regarded organization,
which has resulted in a unique, tiered network health plan: Lifespan Premier Choice. Tufts Health Plan will be offering Lifespan Premier Choice to Rhode Island businesses as of July 1 at a significant discount in the market. The plan will include all Lifespan providers, plus providers who are closely
aligned with Lifespan, in the plan’s preferred tier (i.e., Tier 1), which means that people who have the plan will have the lowest co-pays or deductibles if they choose Lifespan facilities and providers. This collaboration makes health insurance more affordable to patients and also promotes better coordination of
care which improves outcomes and lowers costs. Again, increased value.
I am truly fortunate to work with so many individuals throughout Lifespan who are innovative thinkers and creative problem solvers. As I’ve said many times before, we are all part of the same team – and when I look back over the past few years to see all we’ve accomplished, I realize once again how proud I am to
be part of this team. Thank you for everything you do each and every day on behalf of our patients, their families and the communities we serve.
In the steadfast pursuit of excellence, I remain,
Timothy J. Babineau, MD
President, CEO of Lifespan