The healthcare industry is undergoing transformational changes, and as a result, Mammoth Hospital is facing pressure from many angles. The uncertainty at the national level is creating an unstable climate for both payers and providers which challenge our ability to identify long-term solutions and adapt for the future. This is an especially difficult moment for uncertainty given changes in our patient demographics, introducing new challenges and increasing reliance on Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.
Mammoth Hospital, like hospitals across the nations, is tasked with caring for an aging population with the baby boomers entering a new chapter of their lives and consequently, their health. We are also seeing an expanding foreign-born population for whom English is a second language and in some cases, who have contrasting ideas about health and health maintenance. Across all demographics, there is a national spike in the prevalence of individuals with multiple chronic conditions.
It’s at this moment that hospitals across the country are seeing reimbursement tied to health outcomes. As payment models evolve from fee-for-service to pay-for-performance and value-based reimbursement, Mammoth Hospital has to find ways to produce more with less. We are resolute supporters of this shift toward patient-centered care. Nonetheless, this presents a challenge for our institution in a myriad of ways.
The bar is being set higher than ever before. Across the industry hospitals are facing rigorous data reporting and transparency demands around patient experience, safety, and outcomes. Advanced health analytics are scrutinized to determine reimbursement, making Mammoth Hospital responsible not only for the safety, and satisfaction of our individual patients, but the health of our service district as a whole.
Health analytics and reporting are shifting more than just payments; they are changing the practice of medicine. On one hand this presents enormous opportunities to learn from the data, study trends, and elevate the level of care we provide. On the other, it presents major costs and challenges.
Which brings us to the weight of these changes on our workforce. We recently implemented a Cerner Electronic Health Record system hospital-wide. This is necessary for reporting requirements as well as population health management. Population health management seeks to aggregate data from various departments and patient encounters into a cohesive patient record that enables providers to improve both health and financial outcomes.
While at a high level it was clear that the EHR installation was necessary and inevitable—a growing pain every modern American hospital is, has, or will soon have to experience to keep their doors open. That does not, however, mitigate the strain on our workforce. Our recent Cerner EHR installation was the result of over 28,000 employee hours. Beyond those dedicated hours, our physicians, nurses, and support staff face the ongoing challenge integrating the EHR into their workflow.
Providers are struggling to balance the requirements of EHR data entry along with the quest to retain the quality and intimacy of patient encounters pre-EHR. Physicians, nurses, and all care staff are under strain like never before to ensure they provide top quality care with every patient encounter, protect and maintain meticulous patient safety, and provide an outstanding patient experience—a very tall order.
We support the emphasis on accountability and ensuring outcomes, yet still, our alignment with these values does not procure us the tools to secure results.
Adding to this is the financial strain of the medical technology race. As a hospital, when we fail to stay current with the latest technological advancements the opportunity cost is more than potential patients. It’s risking failing our patients, failing to provide them a solution that the latest technology might have provided. While there is a limit to how much we can devote to new technology, it’s an ever increasing bar we are always striving to meet, never wanting to restrict the tools we can offer a patient.
The current confluence of demands on Mammoth Hospital and the healthcare industry don’t show any signs of slowing down. It is predicted we will continue to see these pressures increase as the political debate around the cost of Medicare and Medicaid programs on the federal budgets continues with the baby boomers aging into Medicare membership. Without another hospital in Mono County, there is not option for failure. Which is why this is a decisive moment to invest in the Mammoth Hospital Foundation.
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Mammoth Hospital Foundation
PO Box 100 PMB 487
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546