For several months, board members from both health systems dedicated a great deal of time and effort exploring the possibilities for a better health-care model. It became clear to them that the future of health care will require a different approach. That's why hospitals and health systems across the country are planning for reform.
One likely shift will be toward a "population health management" model, under which health systems, physicians, and other providers will assume direct responsibility for maintaining the health of people in their communities, from those who are healthy to those with chronic conditions. To accomplish this, health care will no longer be hospital-centric. Rather, it will emphasize keeping people healthy and out of the hospital.
Under this model, health systems will focus on preserving and improving health across a range of services — from preventive care to physician care to home and long-term care. Health systems will also collaborate to create larger, regional systems that can share resources and information to improve quality and reduce costs.
In the case of Holy Redeemer and Abington, each system brought unique qualities and capabilities to the table that we felt we could build on. It's unfortunate that the controversy over one service overshadowed the many expected benefits of this partnership, including:
More comprehensive, well-coordinated patient care across providers and facilities.
Better management of patients with chronic diseases to help them live as independently and comfortably as possible.
Improved access to services that meet the unique needs of women, children, men, and seniors at all stages.
Shared resources and information, leading to higher quality, lower costs, and better long-term community health.
Health systems like Holy Redeemer are charting new territory, and there will be difficulties along the way. Across the country, however, other communities are finding ways to address the obstacles and move forward with partnerships that will meet their health-care needs well into the future.
We remain committed to our vision, and we will continue to seek opportunities to form partnerships with other health-care organizations to enhance the health of the communities we serve. We are also dedicated to ensuring that the community is informed about changes in the nature of health care and the steps Holy Redeemer will take to address them. Our pledge is to find innovative ways to continue to meet the needs of the community, as we have done for more than 75 years.
Michael B. Laign is president and CEO of Holy Redeemer Health System.