Working for Change in Greater LansingHowever, according to Brian Peters, executive vice president of operations for the Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA), “Michigan is ahead of the curve. Federal reform isn’t, taken as a whole, a sea change. It accelerates trends that we have already anticipated and have, in many cases, helped our member hospitals implement.”
MHA President Spencer Johnson says, “We appreciate the work of the Congress in passing healthcare reform legislation designed to give coverage to uninsured Americans. Here in Michigan, our healthcare safety net continues to strain under the weight of lost healthcare coverage as a result of both state and national recessions, and this new legislation will help to address many of these difficulties. Universal healthcare has long been a goal of the MHA, and this progress is a step in the right direction.
“Many of the coverage expansion provisions won’t begin until 2014, so we have several more years ahead of us of hospitals and other providers struggling to keep the system patched together to protect patients. The MHA plans to continue its work with Michigan’s congressional delegation to improve upon this historic first step and ensure that our hospitals continue to provide the best care to all who walk through their doors.”
Since 1919, MHA has been dedicated to representing the interests of its member hospitals by advocating for them in both legislative and regulatory arenas and supporting efforts to provide high-quality healthcare that is both accessible and affordable. Currently, Michigan has 143 community hospitals (defined as local, nonfederal, not-for-profit hospitals), and all are members of MHA.
In addition, MHA serves not only these hospitals but also many healthcare-related organizations like law firms which specialize in healthcare and insurance companies that focus on health coverage. MHA also provides its members with information and analysis of healthcare policy.
As the new legislation rolls out, MHA will be instrumental both in understanding the new medical landscape and in assuring that hospitals can implement changes and continue to provide the best possible healthcare. As Peters says, “Our role will be to work with our members and government officials to make sure that the new legislation is successful in serving the public.”
To that end, Peters reports, “We are looking at internal operations to determine what skills we have and those we will need going forward. We have grown both in terms of staff and function over the years, and I’m sure that will continue.”
Currently, there are 80+ employees at the headquarters building. In September of this year, Modern Healthcare Magazine, an independent weekly business publication delivering news on national and regional healthcare issues to executives in the industry, selected Michigan Health & Hospital Association as one of the country’s top healthcare employers. The award is based on a judging system that is weighted 25 percent on an organization’s nomination and 75 percent on its employees’ survey results—making the award significantly representative of staff sentiment.
Healthcare continues to be Michigan’s largest private-sector employer, providing more than 526,700 direct jobs and nearly 388,200 related jobs in our state and infusing more than $45 billion a year in wages, salaries and benefits into the economy. Whatever changes the new legislation brings, the importance of the business of healthcare is not likely to diminish.
An innovative program which has resulted in Michigan being considered a model in patient care is the MHA Keystone Center for Patient Safety and Quality, initiated by MHA in 2003. An Institute of Medicine report in 1999, “To Err is Human,” reported that some 98,000 lives were lost annually in the United States due to preventable medical error.
As Peters says, “Obviously, this is unacceptable. In fact, even one life lost is one too many. We began a program based on the Johns Hopkins University model to work with hospitals to improve safety and reduce costs by enhancing quality of care. All of our member hospitals have enthusiastically embraced the program. Other states are now looking at our work as an example of what can be accomplished in improving the quality of care.”
Through the Keystone Center, MHA provides training for key hospital personnel in best practices to improve patient safety and reduce costs by enhancing quality of care. Since its inception, Michigan hospitals have partnered with MHA and have achieved significant patient safety improvements, thus enhancing medical care and making hospitals most cost-effective by limiting the duration of hospital stays and forestalling readmissions and medical complications.
According to Peters, “Our work with hospitals through the Keystone Center has resulted in a radical culture change. That culture simply didn’t exist across the board before this program. Collaboration, cooperation and a team approach have become well established in our member hospitals, and we have seen the positive results.”
As part of the effort, the MHA Patient Safety Organization collects data and uses the information not only to validate the work of the Keystone Center but also to focus on areas where more training is warranted.
The MHA Keystone Center has been funded by Michigan hospitals, federal and state government agencies and a $12 million investment from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
Peters says, “We are proud that our hospitals rank well above the national average both in quality of care and in efficiency. We are tops in the Great Lakes States, and the Michigan Model is considered exemplary throughout the country.
“When the ‘To Err is Human’ report was first released, Michigan was one of the few states that did not take a defensive posture. We were already working to improve quality, and we continued to be proactive in our efforts.”
MHA maintains close contact with all its member hospitals, sharing information, monitoring and reporting on its efforts and working hand-in-hand to build on success.
According to Johnson, “While there are challenges ahead, the success of Michigan hospitals’ voluntary quality and safety improvement efforts has allowed us to become national leaders in patient care. As the healthcare reform law takes effect and hospitals make the necessary changes, we will be working to ensure that access to high-quality care for all continues. We look forward to working with elected officials to implement reform successfully.
“We have always supported an expansion of coverage and anticipate that the law will help hospitals strengthen their ability to act as Michigan’s healthcare safety net, a major employer and a contributor to improving the overall health of the communities they serve.”
Michigan Health & Hospital Association
Spencer Johnson, President
Brian E. Peters, Executive Vice President/Operations
6215 St. Joseph Hwy.