Message to Our Community

Transitioning Into the Future

The pace of change in health care, from funding, to reimbursement, to technology, to regulatory demands, to market forces, has increased dramatically. Now, even the strengths we’ve nurtured over the years in the McLaren system will no longer be enough over the long term. Yes, we’ve shaped financial, structural and talent resources that allow us to react nimbly. But the speed of these transitions, and the high stakes for health care in our service areas, mean that even a fast reaction may not be fast enough.

In the high tech industry, there is a tough, but realistic rule of long-term business survival. Even if your current business model is successful, someone or something will replace that model — so why not make that transition yourself, first? Take a hard look at the good work you’ve accomplished — and then shake it up yourself for something better.

Are there real and fundamental risks? Yes. But these risks are necessary in the fast-evolving health care field. Our goals for health used by payers and regulators in measuring these outcomes have grown ever tighter. For example, patient satisfaction and engagement have always been important in the McLaren Health Care system. But new Medicare rules strictly quantify these measures, grade them — and base our reimbursements on them. This is not for added funding, by the way — we lose current Medicare monies if we don’t excel. The federal HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) structure dictates patient ratings we must achieve on such measures as pain management, nurse communications, and even room noise, with funding at stake. Patient satisfaction and quality of care are now solid market differentiators. While our McLaren facilities achieve some very good scores through these measures, there remains some inconsistency. In a major health care system that has grown through acquisition, serving 57 Michigan counties with 22,000 employees, we cannot afford such variation in the comprehensive transition of our business and clinical models we must achieve.

Repeatability, finding the best way to do something and doing it the same way again and again, whether preventing infections, reducing hospital readmissions, or scheduling a mammogram, raises the quality of care. Such “systemness” has been our goal for many years now. As with our “rapid response” efforts to manage change, we’ve seen results, but likewise, a more radical, transformative approach is needed.

The last year has seen us focus on this journey toward transition, with good early results. We’ve engaged the Studer Group, one of America’s foremost health care strategic consulting firms, to help us nurture and hardwire the employee engagement we’ll need to excel. We’ll be working with Studer on sustained improvement over the next three years and are already seeing improvements in our patient satisfaction scores.

There have been other important milestones in this “systemness” transition. Our IT systems for electronic medical records and financial processes are being consolidated into common, systemwide platforms. A patient’s records will be just as accessible at McLaren Northern Michigan as at McLaren Macomb, and our current financial applications will be streamlined into a single, responsive system for billing and financial analysis.

Our transitional stimulus is impacting our entire system, forcing us to stretch in some new, and sometimes uncomfortable, ways. But it is an absolute necessity to prepare for the cascade of change hammering all of health care. In years past, the financial and strategic driver for American hospitals was volume of patients. Now, decades of health care policy are being upended to compel hospitals to deliver value, as measured through quality outcomes and efficiency. We intend to assure that McLaren Health Care will reach this pivot point first.

Philip A. Incarnati 
President and CEO
McLaren Health Care

Daniel Boge
Chairman, Board of Directors
McLaren Health Care