Our view: Position health care so it's D.C.-proofHealth care “is a wild ride,” the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce’s David Ross said Tuesday at a lunchtime gathering of business professionals at the Kitchi Gammi Club. “It can be frenetic (and) unnerving.”
Health care “is a wild ride,” the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce’s David Ross said Tuesday at a lunchtime gathering of business professionals at the Kitchi Gammi Club. “It can be frenetic (and) unnerving.”
That’s certainly true for the many of us who are consumers of health care. Insurance premiums, deductibles and other costs are ever-growing. And the quality and quantity of treatment sometimes seems a far cry from generations past.
Well, imagine being a health-care administrator facing all those same sorts of frustrations and challenges — plus dealing with constantly changing political climates and the never-ending uncertainty over what the federal government might expect or want or order. The recent election threatened to undo President Obama’s health-care overhaul, a reform already rife with unknowns. The election four years from now could change the health-care landscape again. Of course, so, too, could Congress’ actions in the coming weeks related to the fiscal cliff.
“We on the provider side have been waiting to get more clarity,” Peter Person, CEO of Essentia Health, said as the lunch gathering’s featured speaker. “How do we survive with uncertainty?”
Essentia decided against waiting for more clarity and refused to wave back and forth with the winds of constant change. It embraced instead principles and new and better ways of doing things to better serve it and its patients — no matter what mandates might flow from Washington and no matter which political party might be in control.
Essentia “is turning health care on its head,” the News Tribune reported this summer about a company that serves more than 1 million potential patients and employs about 13,000 professionals, including 750 doctors in 65 specialties.
“No longer are doctors simply responding to medical emergencies. Teams at Essentia are working to prevent them from happening,” the July 10 story reported. “It’s an intense, all-encompassing information approach to patients. … In short, Essentia is surrounding these patients with a team that knows their struggles and works to keep their health on track. It’s called coordinated care.”
Essentia’s 62 clinics and 17 hospitals across four states, including in Duluth and Superior, are connected by technology to improve communication with patients and about patients and their needs and histories.
The coordinated approach, improved communication and stepped-up use of technology make it harder for any patient to slip through the cracks. Quality of care can go up while costs go down.
The federal government has recognized Essentia’s approach by naming it one of only four Accountable Care Organizations in Minnesota. ACOs are part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act and its goal of keeping people healthy (which is cheaper) rather than treating them only after they’ve fallen ill (which is way more expensive).
Bold leadership in health care bodes well for Duluth and other appreciative communities — and will no matter what health-care reform brings and no matter which political party is calling the shots.