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How a failing hospital was turned around to become a nationally recognized leader

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | August 20, 2021
From the August 2021 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

TP: Our morning briefings from the studio helped us to reach and inform millions of people, but we also used that tool internally. Bob and I went to the studio every day and put together what we call “The Take 10 with Leaders”. We wanted to make sure we could communicate with all staff within our health system so they could know what was happening every single day. When we didn’t know what was going on, we told them. If there were things happening that we didn’t have the answer to at that time, we were honest about it. When we knew answers, we would tell them. We went every day because we wanted to make sure we stayed connected to our staff. We continue to do daily Take 10, with Bob and I participating three days a week and other leaders also participating and sharing updates.

HCB News: Will you keep telehealth services at a high level going forward post-pandemic?
TP: I think we’ll continue to see telehealth as a strong part of our services because we’ve determined —and patients have determined — we can do it. We also have a greater reach. We know there’s a need for specialists in some of the rural parts of Kansas and we’ve been able to meet some of those needs through telehealth. We won’t see a high percentage of our ambulatory services being telehealth, but we may see about 20% of visits conducted through telehealth.

BP: The only limiter is payment. There were waivers during the pandemic that allowed for there to be payment for telehealth comparable to payment for an in-person visit. There are going to be issues going forward around whether payors pay at that same level. There are also going to be licensure issues as we take care of patients across different state boundaries. However, as long as we can work with those challenges, as Tammy said, we absolutely will stay in the telehealth business.

HCB News: What are the biggest challenges facing your organization today?
TP: Recruiting and retaining the very best people in this big and very busy, complex medical center is a challenge. We will always focus on people and we do a lot of things to retain, but we also need to continue working hard to recruit because we’re growing.

BP: The capital side of healthcare is an arms race and those arms are very expensive. Unlike a lot of our local, regional and national competitors, our balance sheet is only 23 years old. So 92 years of earnings didn’t make it to our balance sheet, they went somewhere else. As we look to continue to enhance our technology here, those are more difficult conversations for us to have than they are for some other places. While we do a great job on the philanthropic front, there are limits to philanthropy. We don’t have a war chest of 92 years of earnings, which presents a challenge for us.

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