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Q&A with Ruth E. Hennessey, EVP and CAO of St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | March 28, 2017
From the March 2017 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

HCB News: How has your facility done with transitioning from fee-for-service to outcome-based models of reimbursement?
We are following the CMS Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement Model and our outcomes are excellent and our length of stay is good as well. We are focused on cardiology in the same way. It’s become more complex, requiring more staff to be involved with data analysis.

HCB News: What challenges does St. Francis face?
One of the big challenges is staff recruitment. We have had an increasing volume of patients, so it’s a constant challenge to recruit staff to make sure they’re the right fit. Other challenges include providing additional space to facilitate program growth.

HCB News: Do you have any other developments you’d like to discuss?
We opened our Heart Valve Center two years ago. It offers a streamlined approach to treating valvular disease by providing a one-stop destination for screening and evaluation. Its team of leading interventional cardiologists and topnotch cardiothoracic surgeons determine if Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement, or TAVR, a state-of-the-art minimally invasive procedure, or open heart surgery, is the right course of action. It is also the center of several major nationwide research studies that could change the face of treating heart disease.

HCB News: What are your concerns, if any, over the change in government leadership and how it may impact your facility?
I don’t think it’s necessarily significant for St. Francis, but I do think it is significant for our market and industry as a whole.

HCB News: Do you have any predictions about how your facility will be different in 10 years?
We have 80 critical care beds, which is unusual for a facility like ours. But 10 years from now, with drug therapy advancement, the patients who do need hospitalization will be sicker. As therapy gets more specialized, we’ll see more challenging cases. Joint replacement surgery will become more ambulatory. Minimally invasive heart procedures such as TAVR will become more prevalent, offering patients new, exciting options that provide fewer days in the hospital, quicker recovery times and a better quality of life.

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