Missouri delivery system achieves more than $3.3 million in savings

Jan. 7, 2010

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (January 6, 2010)Heartland Regional Medical Center of St. Joseph, Mo. has saved more than $3.3 million by utilizing Premier Consulting SolutionsTM (PCS) and Premier healthcare alliance technologies to improve quality and safety in cardiovascular services while delivering cost-effective care.

Heartland, a recipient of the 2009 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, has collaborated with experts from PCS and other Premier entities since 2007 on a cardiovascular services project to improve care and eliminate waste and inefficiencies with a savings goal of $4.4 million.

“When we got started there were no economic issues,” said Heartland Cardiac, Vascular and Pulmonary Service Leader Lynette Wheeler. “When the economic downturn hit, we didn’t have to rethink anything. It just gave us more encouragement that we’re doing the right thing.”

“We redesigned how we did our work in the Cath Lab,” Wheeler said. “We looked at the charge master and validated that we were capturing all charges. We looked at surgery. We looked at supplies. Were we getting best prices? If not, what did we need to do contractually to get to these levels?”

The cardiovascular service line is Heartland’s largest, and all the physicians are in practices owned by Heartland.

“You must align incentives with physicians,” Wheeler emphasized. “So one goal was to ensure the physicians are on board with process changes. We needed to get the hospital processes in order before we engaged the physicians. We didn‘t want them coming back saying ‘If the hospital only did this differently, we could make it work!’”

In patient care units, labor utilization was benchmarked with top performers from across the country using Premier’s OperationsAdvisor® labor benchmarking and productivity solution. Additionally, improvement opportunities were identified from a number of Premier tools such as ClinicalAdvisor®, clinical efficiency and quality performance benchmarking; CardiacFocusTM, cardiovascular supply chain benchmarking; and SpendAdvisorTM MySpendTM, spend management decision support. Wheeler continued, “We must be better stewards of our resources especially since we’re a sole provider. It’s one thing to provide quality care. It another to provide quality care that’s cost effective and cost efficient so patients can afford it.”

With savings of more than $3.3 million, Heartland is well on its way to meeting its $4.4 million goal. First-year savings were $1.5 million, topping the $1.3 million goal. Second year validated savings are at least $1.8 million versus a $1.5 million target. The third year will concentrate on length of stay.

“One goal is obviously financial,” Wheeler continued, “but we are really looking at processes and how we can change them. Our ultimate goal is to be in the top decile for quality and the top quartile for cost. We are a high quality organization. We want to eliminate waste and inefficiencies.”

Heartland has participated in Premier’s Hospital Quality Incentive Demonstration™ (HQID) value-based purchasing project with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “We’ve done very well in HQID. Now we’re looking at cost,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler anticipates meeting their goal. “It has been a great experience for us and we know we’re going to make our goal. There’s no think about it. We must be competitive. Ours is a very mobile society. If we aren’t competitive, our patients can easily go to another provider that is.”