Driscoll pushing personal accountability to keep costs down

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Jackie Driscoll’s newly created position at Centura Health, the parent of Penrose-St. Francis Health Services and about a dozen other hospitals in Colorado, grew out of the system’s plans to deal with health care reforms. Driscoll, a native of Colorado Springs, started her career as a medical technologist and now serves as the chief business development officer for southern Colorado. She has been with Centura since 2005, working on managed care contracts.

Tell us what you do for Centura.

I work to create new partnerships between physicians groups and the Centura hospitals in southern Colorado: Penrose-St. Francis Health Center, St. Mary Corwin Health Centers and St. Thomas More. We need to move forward to create an environment where we’re increasingly accountable for both quality and price. Centura is hiring some doctors in geographic regions where they are scarce, but our strategy is not to employ more doctors as it is to find partners in the existing market. We want to strengthen that relationship. The position was definitely created in response to health care reform. Margaret Sabin, the CEO at Penrose, had a vision about really integrating services — bringing all the players together. That’s what my job is — to create those partnerships that are going to be necessary going forward.

Is that a departure from what other hospitals are doing?

Hospitals, I think, are trying all different things. We’re looking for the next generation of working together. Health care reform is going to change all that, so we’re working to ease that transition. Hospitals are far too focused on acute and serious illnesses. We need to do more. At Centura, we call it moving “upstream”: focusing on personal accountability, healthy habits, healthy lifestyles. We have to get more personal accountability in the system because we have to get control of our expenses.

How will reform, and your position, affect businesses?

Businesses have been bearing the brunt of our health care costs, and it is quickly making them uncompetitive nationally. Small businesses, in particular, are going to come to a tipping point — they will decide if they are going to offer benefits to stay competitive or let people purchase in the exchanges. And there is going to be sticker shock. A person making $40,000 a year isn’t going to be able to afford a $1,200 monthly premium.

So how is Penrose and Centura working to solve that problem?

My job is not only to reach out to primary car doctors, asking them what they need, what we can do for them to keep costs down. We’ve also reached out to select employers to start the conversation about wellness. We offer classes, screenings, all to work together to create a healthier workforce. A healthier employee means a healthier business. We’re also working with insurance companies, to see how we can keep their costs down while still delivering the best health care we can. It’s going to be a collaboration — how we can revise methods for premium payments for people who keep healthy and make better choices. There are going to be decisions about how to access care, providing integrated services. It’s a new day for health care, and we’re just trying to be ready.

strong>Audio excerpt of the interview with Jackie Driscoll.