Q & A with Michael Hulefeld

by Diana Bradley, Staff Writer | September 25, 2012
From the September 2012 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

DMBN: With reimbursement cuts and the current economic issues going on, what (if any) actions has your facility taken to cut costs and curb spending?

MH: We’re in the midst right now of efforts to reduce our cost per unit of service by about five percent over the next six months as we head into next year. We have taken major reimbursement hits that are impacting us now and we don’t have time to wait until 2014 to reduce costs. So we are really focused on utilization management within our hospital and improving patient throughput. We are running at over 90 percent capacity in our hospital. We have length of stay opportunities. We are always focused on employee productivity and physician/provider productivity within our group practice. We are also very focused on what we call our “pursuit of value.” We’ve got a great opportunity to standardize care, whether it’s through the implants and supplies that we purchase, or just how we practice medicine. So, we are highly engaged with the physicians in our medical group on how we can improve cost and quality. We talk a lot at our organization about the creation of value. We need to work both sides of the value equation.

DMBN: Do you interact with CEOs from other hospitals/health care facilities? If so, how has that benefited you?

MH: We are an academic medical center. So for us to not be constantly looking to learn, and learn through other people would be a failure on our part. We do try to study other organizations and other leaders as much as possible. There are a lot of great organizations out there that we look up to and ask for guidance from and study.

DMBN: Are there any “green” or eco initiatives at your facility?

MH: We are in the middle of an audit from an outside company – evaluating all of our hospitals, relative to energy saving opportunities and initiatives. So they are going through and looking at our facilities and the amount of energy we utilize to determine how we become more green as well as reduce our cost. They are working with us on things like putting light sensors in exam rooms so that when you walk out of the room, if you’re not there for 10 minutes the lights turn off automatically. Things like that that sound small, but over the course of time, those investments pay for themselves. These are things that don’t impact patient care, but help us lower our costs.

We are also working toward earning an Energy Star rating for our facility, which indicates our continued commitment to pursue energy savings.

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