January 13, 2006
Volume 50, Issue 2
WHA Launches Community Benefit Reporting Initiative
Training Seminars set March 22, 23 and 24
Wisconsin hospitals have a proud tradition of serving their communities. Now it has become increasingly important to be able to collect, quantify and report these benefits back to the community.
This week, WHA announced the "Wisconsin Hospitals: Connecting with Our Communities" public reporting initiative. It is an initiative that the WHA Board and WHA President Steve Brenton set as a top priority in 2006.
"The Board’s commitment to community benefit reporting is indicative of WHA’s ongoing commitment to an ambitious and expanding transparency agenda. The public reporting of community benefits, along with quality and safety measures and hospital prices, demonstrates the hospital field’s willingness to be publicly accountable for efforts to improve patient care and collaborate with our communities," Brenton said. "The bottom line: measuring and reporting will ultimately improve all that we do."
This year for the first time, the Wisconsin Hospital Association will collect, report and publish a statewide report on hospital community benefits. An online survey tool developed by the Michigan Health and Hospital Association will be used by WHA to collect data from member hospitals. The survey will help standardize the collection of community benefits data, which will facilitate the development of a statewide report.
WHA will hold training sessions at no cost to members in three locations:
March 22 – Olympia Resort, Oconomowoc
March 23 – The Plaza Hotel & Suites, Eau Claire
March 24 – Holiday Inn Hotel & Conference Center, Stevens Point
Participants will learn how to identify, collect and quantify community benefit activities and then report them to WHA using a new online survey instrument. Another important communication vehicle in illustrating hospital community benefits is by relating how hospitals have touched the lives of those they serve. These stories will be used in the statewide report, as well as in several WHA publications to ensure that the public, legislators and the press know the vital difference hospitals can make in a community.
Brenton emphasized the importance of real life examples.
"The belief that real life stories are more important than the release of financial data strongly motivated the WHA Community Benefits Task Force members and influenced their recommendations to the WHA Board on how to proceed with reporting," Brenton said. "Specific examples of hospital/community collaboration and personal testimonials will be a key feature of the strategic communications campaign," he added.
The timeline for the new Wisconsin hospital community benefit reporting initiative is as follows:
March – Community Benefit Reporting Training Seminars (using new survey tool)
April 5 – WHPRMS Education Day Seminar on Community Benefit Reporting
May 31 – Deadline for hospitals to submit survey to WHA (online)
June/July – WHA develops statewide report and prepares for statewide release
WHA recommends that at least one representative from each hospital register to attend this complimentary training; additional registered attendees are welcome. Attendees who will benefit from the training include community and public relations professionals, chief executive officers, and others involved in the collection or distribution of community benefits information.
The seminar brochure is included in this week’s packet. For more information on registration, contact Sherry Rabuck at 608-274-1820 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the program content, contact Jennifer Frank at email@example.com.
Note there are a few new additions to the ever popular WHA Toolkit at www.wha.org. A copy of the community benefits survey that will be available online in March is available to download, along with a WHA White Paper on community benefits. Senior Vice President George Quinn’s PowerPoint presentation on community benefits is also now in the Toolkit. If you need assistance customizing it for your audience, contact Quinn at 608-274-1820 firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHA Receives Planning Grant to Develop Health Care Consumer Education
The Wisconsin Partnership Fund for a Healthy Future at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH) recently awarded the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) $46,569 for their "Enhancing the Role of Consumers as Informed Partners in the Health Care System" project. This planning grant will develop a broad-based education program to improve how consumers make health care decisions. The education program will focus on three key topics: the role of the consumer in the health care system, health care financing, and how to access and incorporate objective data into health care decision making.
To develop the consumer education program, WHA will partner with the State of Wisconsin Employee Trust Fund (ETF). ETF annually purchases over $800 million of health insurance benefits for approximately 250,000 active and retired state employees and their family members. In 2004, ETF implemented a value-based purchasing strategy driven by the availability of transparent, publicly reported quality and safety information. ETF is committed to value-based purchasing that includes: 1) gaining transparency of cost, quality and patient safety information; 2) rewarding value through pay-for-performance contracting; and 3) engaging consumers for more informed decision making.
The academic partner for this project is Linda Baumann, PhD, RN. Baumann is a Professor in the UW-Madison School of Nursing and affiliate faculty in the UW Medical School Department of Population Health Sciences. Baumann’s expertise is in the area or population/community health nursing where she is widely recognized as a behavioral scientist who has advanced theory on how a person’s beliefs influence health-related behaviors.
In all, the Wisconsin Partnership Fund for a Healthy Future awarded 19 grants totaling approximately $4.7 million for community-academic partnerships designed to improve the health of the people of Wisconsin. Funding for this program was provided following the conversion of Blue Cross/Blue Shield to a for-profit organization.
For more information on the WHA grant, contact Dana Richardson at email@example.com. For more information on the Wisconsin Partnership Fund, go to http://wphf.med.wisc.edu/ or call 608-262-2698.
WHA’s Public Policy Council, chaired by David Olson, CEO of Bay Area Medical, had a full slate of issues to address at its January 10 meeting. The number one priority issue for WHA and the first issue on the agenda was restoration of a cap on non-economic damages.
Eric Borgerding, WHA senior vice president, provided a recap of activities from 2005, including the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Wisconsin’s 10-year old cap, legislation to restore the cap (Assembly Bill 766) and that bill’s eventual veto by Governor Doyle.
"The Legislature approved restoring a cap on non-economic damages last fall. Unfortunately, the Governor vetoed that bill," Borgerding began. "The clock is ticking and the Legislature and Governor must restore a cap. Wisconsin cannot wait until 2007 to remedy this urgent situation."
The Legislature’s spring session will run from January through April before adjourning for fall elections. It will not reconvene until January 2007. This means the Legislature has only a few months in which to pass legislation to restore the cap.
Borgerding turned the discussion over to Raymond Taffora, a partner at the Madison law firm of Michael Best & Friedrich. Taffora provided the Council with a summary of the Supreme Court’s decision on this issue and gave insight into the Court’s constitutional concern.
The Council then heard from Senior Vice President George Quinn on the work of the WHA Medicaid Task Force. Quinn reported that the Task Force had recently met and voted to incorporate hospital affiliated nursing homes into its Medicaid strategy. Medicaid reimbursement continues to be WHA’s number one long-term legislative priority.
WHA General Counsel Laura Leitch provided a review of current law on the peer review statute and WHA’s efforts to reform that statute to encourage more collaboration to improve quality and patient safety. Reforming the outdated statute is a key element of Healthier Choices, WHA’s health reform blueprint.
Metro Milwaukee Vice President Bill Bazan provided a brief update on legislation to push for much needed reforms relating to health care decision making, including creating a process to address instances where an incapacitated patient is without a Living Will or Power of Attorney.
Vice President of Workforce Judy Warmuth provided Council members with an account of nurse faculty legislation proposed and supported by WHA. Approval of this change would have no cost and would be an immediate solution to a looming crisis.
"Wisconsin’s nursing programs are facing a faculty crisis," Warmuth warned. "This legislation attempts to put solutions in place before that crisis hits so Wisconsin can maintain its quality faculty and nursing programs."
Government Relations Vice President Jodi Bloch updated Council members on several pieces of legislation, including a bill to mandate hospital infection rate reporting and two tissue donation bills. It was also noted that WHA successfully obtained an exemption for hospitals and other health care facilities under pending concealed carry legislation. This has become more important due to the potential for a veto override on the bill.
Dana Richardson, vice president of quality, provided Council members with an overview of WHA’s transparency initiatives, including the recent addition of new surgical infection prevention measures to CheckPoint.
Vice President of External Relations & Member Advocacy Jenny Boese discussed WHA’s grassroots advocacy initiatives. She provided a snapshot of the 2005 achievements of the Hospitals Education & Advocacy Team (HEAT), including having 1,000 members and over 3,000 legislative contacts on the priority issues of Medicaid reimbursements and medical liability. Boese highlighted the value of grassroots tracking. Tracking provides for benchmarking and measurement of the program’s overall effectiveness and for realignment on specific grassroots efforts. Boese closed by providing HEAT’s 2006 goals: increase commitment to grassroots advocacy by hospitals, increase HEAT membership to 1,400, increase HEAT key contacts by 25 and establish a HEAT point person at each hospital.
Let’s pause a moment to review the facts:
The lesson to be learned from this sorry episode is the futility of assigning simple grades to complex, multi-faceted issues. The result is unworthy of being called "news."
The confusion caused by the questionable ACEP "Report Card" was then compounded by a reporter’s inattention to detail, as demonstrated by the Wisconsin State Journal’s (WSJ) article’s initial sentence, "Wisconsin ranks poorly in hospital health care…" Given that factual screw up, perhaps the WSJ headline writer should be given a pass.
As a final note, the Wisconsin State Journal did run a brief "Setting it Straight" article (two column inches) noting that the ACEP report "did not study direct patient care but instead evaluated government support for emergency medical system(s)." The retraction (my description) suggested that the earlier story (12 column inches plus tabloid-style headline) "may have given the impression the report was grading direct care." That admission, which undoubtedly escaped the attention of 99 percent of readers who were drawn to the earlier lurid headline, is one of the few indisputable facts associated with this debacle.
P.S. Kudos to the reporters who got the story right: WKBT (Channel 8, La Crosse) Reporter Sarah Platt (www.wha.org/wkbt.com1-06.pdf) and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Kawanza Newson (www.wha.org/mjs1-06.pdf). Nice effort!
Although we’ve started a new year, the WHA Foundation Annual Fundraising Campaign continues into 2006. Several more organizations and individuals have shown their support for the Foundation by making a recent contribution. Thank you to those most recent contributors.
To make a contribution during 2006, or for more information on the WHA Foundation and its fundraising campaign, contact Jennifer Frank at 608/274-1820 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, you can access the contribution form online atwww.wha.org.
All Saints Healthcare System, Racine
Aspirus – Wausau Hospital, Wausau
UW Hospital & Clinics, Madison
WHA Financial Solutions, Inc., Madison
Contributions from Organizations
Amery Regional Medical Center, Amery
Bay Area Medical Center, Marinette
Bellin Health, Green Bay
Black River Hospital, Black River Falls
Flambeau Hospital, Park Falls
Holy Family Hospital, New Richmond
Lakeview Medical Center, Rice Lake
Memorial Health Center, Medford
Memorial Medical Center, Ashland
Mercy Health System, Janesville
Reedsburg Area Medical Center, Reedsburg
Sacred Heart-Saint Mary’s Hospitals, Rhinelander/Tomahawk
Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Marshfield
SSM Health Care of Wisconsin, Madison
St. Joseph’s Hospital, Chippewa Falls
St. Vincent Hospital, Green Bay
Contributions from Individuals
Loren Anderson, Aurora Health Care
Jenny Boese, Wisconsin Hospital Association
Steve Brenton, Wisconsin Hospital Association
Daniel Fischer, in honor of Mrs. Lillian Fischer’s 85th Birthday
Jennifer Frank, Wisconsin Hospital Association
Dan Hymans, Memorial Medical Center
Mike Karuschak, Amery Regional Medical Center
John Landdeck, Beaver Dam Community Hospital
John Marnell, Hudson Hospital
Joe Neidenbach, St. Vincent Hospital
Tom Plantenberg, Friends of Froedtert
David Snow, Hall Render Killian Heath & Lyman P.C.
In 2002, Wisconsin contracted with Promissor all nurse aide program graduate testing. The transition to a national vendor was very bumpy and subsequent changes have been no less problematic. WHA members report that the test process is not user friendly, test sites are not always conveniently located, scheduling and timing of tests is problematic and tester ratings are inconsistent. WHA, along with the nursing home associations and numerous others, have raised these issues and concerns with the Wisconsin Office of Caregiver Quality (OCQ) as well as with the vendor.
The contract with this vendor will expire in 2007. OCQ has assembled a workgroup to offer advice and suggestions for the next contract. The group met for the first time this week and will continue to meet on a regular basis to discuss and help formulate the Request for Proposals that will go out in 2006 to current and potential new vendors. At the first meeting, contract issues, along with the history of nurse aide testing in Wisconsin and the goals of the testing program were reviewed. The workgroup asked OCQ to for a more creative approach to achieving a standardized process, assuring baseline competency and maintaining the registry. Raised as possible solutions were: separate vendors for the registry and the testing process, and multiple vendors for testing and consulting/collaborating with other states. The OCQ was clear that a return to local testing and evaluation was not an option.
Judy Warmuth, vice president, workforce development at WHA is participating in the workgroup. If you have comments, ideas or recommendations for the next contract, contact Warmuth at email@example.com or 608-274-1820.
Zocor, the cholesterol-reducing drug, will soon be losing its patent exclusivity, which means employers can save substantial amounts by changing their formularies to promote the use of its generic equivalent. As the number of drugs with generic equivalents grows, so does the savings opportunity.
Because generic alternatives offer employers untapped savings, it’s important to review the pharmacy usage reports provided by your medical plan’s broker/consultant. For more information on the pharmacy usage report or other cost saving ideas, contact Jon Braddock firstname.lastname@example.org.
Member News: Meriter’s Terri Potter Receives Prestigious Awards
Meriter Health Services President/CEO Terri Potter was honored this month by two Madison magazines. The publication, InBusiness selected Potter to become a member of its 2006 Executive Hall of Fame class. The magazine refers to members who receive this honor as the "gold standard of Greater Madison business and non-profit executives."
Madison Magazine and its Madison Business section awarded Potter its Brian D. Howell Award for Excellence in Innovation. This award recognizes factors that fuel Madison’s economic development, including technology, higher education, a vibrant Downtown, innovative leaders, health care, arts and tourism.
Potter’s commitment to the success of the community and his involvement as a leader in efforts such as the Collaboration Council is based on his belief that hospital and other not-for-profit groups will only be successful "if there is a strong economic framework within the community."
Fort HealthCare in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin is seeking candidates for the position of president/CEO. Fort HealthCare (FHC) is an integrated health care delivery system serving eight community areas and has the only hospital in Jefferson County, where FHC is located. FHC is a 110-bed acute care hospital, including a 28-bed sub-acute skilled nursing unit, 11 owned and leased clinic sites in Fort Atkinson and outlying communities, a home health/hospice, a physician practice management business, a PPO, and an active Foundation.
The successful candidate will bring a track record of success in leading a community health system with a focus on people, service, quality, finance, growth, and community. Candidates should demonstrate a history of collaborative, credible relationships with medical staff leadership, medical staff members, governance, and senior leadership. Optimization of financial resources and accountability for results must be demonstrated.
Contact Pat Neds at MSA Executive Search, 816-373-9988 or email email@example.com for more information on this opportunity.
The Institute for Diversity in Health Management seeks organizations to host interns from its Summer Enrichment Program beginning in June. Last summer, the program matched more than 50 undergraduate and graduate health care management students with hospitals and health systems across the country according to need and interest. Organizations can apply online. For more on the program, visit the Institute’s Web site or contact Angela Anderson at 312-422-2657 firstname.lastname@example.org.