Guest Opinion

As you know, Healthcare is constantly changing. But did you know that it is currently transferring from volume to value and what that may mean to you? Syringa Hospital District Board of Trustees members think it’s critical that their local communities understand the changes and how they may affect patients. We also want to share what other topics are being discussed and voted on at our meetings.

There are three hot topics that were recently discussed at the Syringa Board meeting in July: 1): Board members voted on value-based healthcare at the July 23, 2019, board meeting in Grangeville; 2) The board approved Syringa Hospital District to enter into an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) proposal services agreement with Caravan Health in 2020; and 3) How will the recent transfer of ownership of St. Mary’s and Clearwater Valley hospitals to Kootenai Health affect our collaborative efforts?

Changes in Healthcare Delivery

Changes in Medicare funding and healthcare delivery models have led Syringa Hospital to join an ACO called, Caravan Health. Caravan has partnered with the Idaho Hospital Association to provide additional training and a multi-organizational structure that supports achieving the goals of value-based healthcare.

The new "value-based healthcare model," promoted by Medicare, pays hospitals based on “patient outcomes” instead of “services provided” as is the case now. Along with this new payment model comes a lot of other associated changes, too many to mention, but it will change the way healthcare is delivered at Syringa Hospital.

This new delivery model has been studied over the last four years by a small group of Syringa employees, but frankly we found it necessary to move more quickly in adopting the “value-based healthcare model" than imagined even a few short months ago.

Switching payment models (driven by Medicare) will not be easy nor a quick process, but once the transition has been completed, value-based healthcare holds out the hope of better, more long-lasting healthcare results for patients; more stable healthcare costs; and lower, more stable insurance rates!

There is no escaping the fact that "healthcare in America" is at a major turning point! In order to continue to provide quality healthcare, small rural hospitals like Syringa, will be given less money to help an increasingly aging population manage chronic diseases and avoid costly hospitalizations and medical emergencies.

Approximately 55 to 65 percent of all Syringa Hospital patients fall under Medicare or Medicaid insurance. Self-pay and/or private insurance patients represent less than half of all Syringa’s patients today and the percentage of Medicare and Medicaid supported patients is going to continue to grow even larger as our population grows older!

Joining an ACO, such as Caravan, is no longer optional. Small, rural hospitals like Syringa, cannot ‘go it alone’ in today’s more competitive Medicare and Medicaid insurance dominated healthcare world. We simply had to join other small hospitals in an ACO, promoted by the Idaho Hospital Association, in order to survive the new federal Medicare and Medicaid payment models being implemented over the next few years.

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