Health care growth expected locally in ’14

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Leaders of the health care industry in Colorado Springs foresee great growth ahead, according to conversations with representatives of Penrose-St. Francis Hospital, Memorial Health Systems and Peak Vista Community Health Centers.

Peak Vista

Some of the growth was announced late in 2013, including the merger between Peak Vista and Plains Medical Center. This merger will add 10,000 additional patients over an area of 5,000 square miles to the 66,000 patients before the merger.

Peak Vista also announced its new residency program, a collaboration between itself and Rocky Vista University.

In addition, Peak Vista will participate in an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) shared savings program.

The goal is for the medical providers, along with the insurance providers and the government to band together to provide quality care for a low price, said Dr. Michael Welch, vice president of medical and dental administration for Peak Vista.

The ACO is made up of physician offices, hospitals, therapists and others involved in providing health care services.

“They all come together and agree upon health outcome targets for a specified health population,” Welch said.

ACOs can be government-related, through Medicaid and Medicare, or through paid insurance companies, he added. Ultimately, if targets are met, health care and insurance providers get a financial bonus.

For example, health care and insurance providers may stress a target of lowering blood pressure, decreasing the need for radiology, Welch said.

“The model has numerous permutations that can be agreed upon,” he said. “Some people refer to it as managed care light.”

This first year will be primarily setting baseline measurements, and initially, some 30 quality measures are included.

“The goal is to result in a win, win, win situation,” Welch said, signifying a win for the patient for quality of care, a win for the physician because of a higher payout, and a win for the insurance provider because the quality of care is better and because of that, more money is being saved overall.

Peak Vista’s residency program begins in June or July.

The Health Care Administration Services has approved Peak Vista for up to eight three-year residencies, but it “probably won’t have more than five” at the start, Welch said.

Penrose-St. Francis

Penrose-St. Francis Hospital and Health Services projects a busy year, said spokesman Chris Valentine.

To start the new year, the hospital opened a new clinic Jan. 3 at the corner of Fillmore Street and Union Boulevard. The clinic offers 10 primary care providers, five physicians and five nurse practitioners and physical assistants.

“All have the ability to see and treat patients and write prescriptions,” Valentine said.

Later this month, the hospital system will cut ribbon and break ground on a new medical campus in Monument. Completion is expected for late 2014.

The medical campus came about by a partnership between Penrose, the YMCA and Wisconsin-based Boldt Company. The plan involves building a new 50,000-square foot addition to the Tri-Lakes YMCA. The building will house urgent care and primary care offices, as well as space to lease to other doctors or health-related groups.

“We have yet to determine how many new people will be hired,” Valentine said. “As with any expansion, you want to have a mix of experienced employees who transfer within the organization to work at the new location, plus new people.”

When the St. Francis Medical Center opened in 2008, its owners left the sixth floor an empty shell for future growth.

“In January, we will start the build-out of part of the sixth floor to create an orthopedic center, 30 patient rooms dedicated to orthopedic patients,” Valentine said. This is expected to open in June.

Penrose also is expected to open its new hybrid operating room in 2014.

Memorial Hospital

“We will continue our focus on leveraging best practices across the system in a way that improves quality while lowering costs.”

Brian Newsome,

Memorial director of communications

For Memorial, calendar year 2013 marked the first full year as part of the University of Colorado Health System.

“The year brought a significant number of accomplishments, including a new electronic medical records system, quality improvements, new certifications in stroke and chest pain care, new doctors and new technology, to name a few,” said Brian Newsome, Memorial director of communications.

“This all came as we made the transition internally with systemized HR policies, IT upgrades, and various processes” of the university system.

In the year 2014, “we are moving from this transitional period to optimizing our operations for long-term growth,” Newsome said.

One of the benefits of affiliating with UCHealth is the economies of scale that result, Newsome said.

“For example, we saved millions of dollars on our Electronic Medical Records system by implementing it as a system rather than on our own,” Newsome said. “We will continue our focus on leveraging best practices across the system in a way that improves quality while lowering costs.”