Friday, August 3, 2012

Leadership meeting highlights survey, U.S. News rankings

With the Joint Commission survey following on the heels of the release of the U.S. News & World Report rankings, the last two weeks of July were particularly memorable for MGHers. These two topics – along with state and national health care policy, the hospital’s financial performance and the MGH/MGPO Strategic Planning process – were the focus of the July 30 leadership meeting.

MGH President Peter L. Slavin, MD, kicked off the meeting by explaining the methodology behind the U.S. News &
World Report
“Best Hospitals” rankings and giving an overview of MGH’s movement in the rankings over the last decade. “This past year we actually tied with Johns Hopkins with 30 points. But since we were ranked in 16 specialties, and they had only 15, that was the tiebreaker that determined we were the No. 1 hospital in the country,” said Slavin.

Although the No. 1 ranking by U.S. News is an honor, Slavin noted it is one of many ranking systems. “We need to take this with a grain of salt. The last thing we want to see as a result of this is for us to be complacent in any way. We all recognize that our real competition is cancer and heart disease and mental illness – all the diseases that affect our patients and their loved ones.”

Slavin then moved to the topic of health care policy. He highlighted state legislation – which passed the next day – that aims to keep health care spending increases on pace with the growth of the overall state economy and shared some of the projected advantages and disadvantages of the bill. He also discussed the recently upheld Affordable Care Act, explaining that, while it would not greatly affect Massachusetts because it already has its own health care law in place, it is creating challenges for other states.

Next, John Belknap, director of Corporate Compliance, provided details about the Joint Commission survey that took place the week of July 23. Belknap commended the survey team for being collaborative and complimentary but noted they were very stringent in applying their standards. “They did identify a number of places where they’re asking us to look a little bit more closely to see if we have room for improvement.”

Belknap shared a summary of the Joint Commission findings, emphasizing that they are preliminary and may change. “All of you should be extremely proud of the way you and your teams performed – not only during the survey, but ‘Excellence Every Day,’” said Belknap. 

In addition to the news of a generally positive survey, Sally Mason Boemer, senior vice president of Finance and MGH Cancer Center, shared that the MGH is having a strong year financially. “It is due to a combination of some one-time items –
that we don’t necessarily think will repeat themselves – and strong volume in a year when we managed the rate of expense growth not necessarily counting on that level of volume.”

Fiscal year 2012 has provided a strong base for developing the 2013 budget, said Mason Boemer. The main challenge the hospital faces is ensuring that unit costs are in line with market expectations and long-term affordability.

The closing presentation was given by Ann Prestipino, senior vice president for Surgical and Anesthesia Services and Clinical Business Development, who gave an update on the MGH/MGPO Strategic Planning process, an institutionwide effort that will guide decisions in the years ahead. Work to date has included the review of major internal and external trends and interviews of more than 40 key individuals at the MGH, which led to the development of an MGH case study. MGH administrative, clinical and Board of Trustees leadership as well as leadership from Partners reviewed this case study during an April retreat and identified key questions that must be answered going forward.

Staff now are launching six workgroups that will focus on the following priorities: redesigning the delivery system for population health, differentiating MGH episodic care, improving integration of the clinical and research missions, organizing research for the greatest impact and success, redefining the teaching model to prepare trainees for the changing health care landscape and explicitly linking community to other MGH missions.

“With the help and input of the many talented members of the MGH community, we are excited to move forward in the next phase of this process,” says Prestipino.

Read more articles from the 08/03/12 Hotline issue.

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