Weekly Messages From MHA

Weekly Message From MHA

Summer Doldrums? No Way!

August 17, 2018 By: Bob Atlas

You know all too well that our communities’ needs for health care don’t take the summer off. Maybe it’s not flu season just now, and perhaps fewer elective procedures are scheduled. But for the most part, the beat goes on. You are there for the people who need you … 24/7/52.

MHA also has a lot to do. Come January 1, Maryland will begin operating under the new Total Cost of Care Model. The model has ambitious goals of controlling cost growth across all settings, raising quality, and improving the health of communities. The stakes for our hospitals and health systems are high.

A week later, the Maryland General Assembly will convene for its 439th session, with many new members eager to make their marks.

These events demand much preparation. MHA staff are on the job. One priority is to figure out which levers hospitals need to pull, individually and collectively, to make the new financing model a success from Day 1.

We are grateful to have the full engagement of our councils and work groups. Just this Tuesday, for example, the Council on Clinical and Quality Issues met. The room was packed and the agenda was full. Topics the council gave guidance on ranged from solutions for post-discharge care continuity to refining the factors that go into quality-related payment incentives.

MHA staff also are doing intensive work ahead of our Executive Committee’s extra-long September meeting, during which the committee will revamp the association’s strategic plan so it effectively supports the work you are doing. We have a lot of ideas; the committee will help us set direction and prioritize initiatives.

For my part, I continue my road warrior routine. I’ve visited more hospitals – eight in just the last three weeks – and met with their leaders to gather valuable insights on the needs of their institutions and communities that will help us make the new model work in the real world. (Fun fact: from Garrett Regional Medical Center in Oakland to Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin, it’s 309 miles. That’s about the distance from Chicago to St. Louis.)

I’m also meeting one-on-one with regulators, commissioners and legislators to hear candidly what really matters to them. And with industry veterans such as former health secretary Joshua Sharfstein and former Holy Cross Health CEO Kevin Sexton, to gain their invaluable historical perspectives. And with emerging leaders such as CareFirst’s new CEO, Brian Pieninck, who I’m pleased to report is open to collaborate with hospitals in new ways to improve the health of the people of Maryland. The list goes on.

In these crucial months before the start of 2019, it is of tremendous importance that Maryland’s hospital and health system leaders share a vision for better health care in our state. We, the staff of MHA, are privileged to carry the banner on your behalf.