We’ve been hearing about national trends in healthcare in the popular press for years. It’s taken a while to trickle down to rural hospitals and now Pullman Regional Hospital is addressing these trends through the Next Era of Excellence. Here are some of those trends:
Some of these factors are a function of everyday management of a hospital; others are new. Combined, however, all of these factors make for a challenging environment for a small, critical access, community hospital.
To put it simply, hospitals do not get reimbursed for the true cost of providing care. They get reimbursed by “payers,” Medicare/Medicaid and insurance companies, for “allowable” costs – what insurance companies are willing to reimburse which is usually below the real cost. As the cost of healthcare rises, allowable costs are not rising and hospitals are left absorbing them.
What are some of these costs?
Another way to look at these costs is as necessary investments: technology, salaries and benefits for physicians and healthcare professionals, pay for on-call coverage, supplies, continuing education, and others. Technology and equipment are the tools of the trade; physicians and other healthcare professionals are in high demand with a low supply, and some providers expect to be paid for covering three local hospitals, a necessary model of care in our area.
We have also made investments in staffing and access to care. A commitment to people who are at the forefront of providing care and support is a critical part of our pursuit of excellence. To assure stability and availability of well-trained, compassionate staff, we have established our Employment Security Commitment.
“The employment security of the staff at Pullman Regional Hospital is an essential part in the ultimate care and well-being of the patients we serve. In light of this, we establish an expectation that each of us commit to plan, lead, and manage the affairs of Pullman Regional Hospital to assure that no employee loses employment due to layoffs.” - Employment Commitment statement from PRH Employee Handbook
Here is a chart showing operating margins of Pullman Regional Hospital compared to all Washington hospitals and other rural hospitals.
Another investment we make is ensuring access to care. More on this in the next blog.