By JIM ANDERSON
IRON MOUNTAIN - Dickinson County Healthcare System is launching a new customer service initiative throughout Dickinson Memorial Hospital and its affiliated medical practices. Superior Health Partners, which includes Dickinson Memorial and eight other Upper Peninsula hospitals, is contracting with the Baptist Leadership Group, a consulting firm based in northwest Florida. Financial support is coming from Blue Cross-Blue Shield (BCBS) of Michigan.
"It's about fixing customer problems," said William Edberg, chairman of the DCHS Board of Trustees. The BCBS-funded contract is for two years and "it's a significant effort," he added.
In a press release issued Thursday, DCHS officials outlined the goals of the initiative.
"We know we do a lot of things right," said Susan Hadley, RN, director of nursing and leader of the customer service project. "We have acquired a high level of medical technology, hired the best physicians and staff to use it, and have attained high quality and safety scores that have been nationally recognized. But in order to continually earn the trust and confidence of our patients and their families, we need to create an even better health care experience - consistently with every patient, every day, in every way - and to show them that they are at the center of everything we do."
Baptist Leadership Group is a consulting firm owned by Baptist Health Care, a community-owned, not-for-profit health care organization. Baptist Health is nationally recognized for performance excellence and quality achievement and has consistently ranked in the 99th percentile for patient satisfaction as recognized by Press Ganey, a leader in health care quality improvement.
Baptist Leadership Group helps health care organizations across the country improve the patient experience using the tools, techniques, and best practices tested and proven at Baptist Health Care.
"We are starting from a position of strength with a very dedicated and committed staff," said Hadley. "We are also small enough to know our patients as our friends and neighbors; they have always been more than a medical record number while a patient at our hospital. We are committed to a culture of patient-centered excellence and are excited to learn how to exceed our patients' expectations every day."
Across the nation, DCHS officials said, the health care industry is transitioning to a new model of providing care to a growing number of health care consumers at a time when costs are rising and reimbursement rates are shrinking. Superior Health Partners was created in response to those challenges.
"This alliance of U.P. hospitals in no way diminishes each hospital's independence, but it does seek to strengthen their ability to compete with out-of-state health care providers, which in recent years have systematically sought to steer specific health care services out of the U.P.," said John Schon, DCHS administrator.
According to Superior Health Partners, this "out-migration" accounts for at least $80 million of health care funding that leaves the U.P. annually - primarily to Wisconsin.
In other business Thursday, the hospital board reviewed an April financial report showing an operating loss of $453,910 for the month. April's performance brought the year-to-date loss in operations to $2.06 million.
Expense reduction and revenue enhancement plans will continue and by year-end should greatly help the bottom line, Schon said. In all, the measures target some $600,000 in monthly financial improvements.
Also, DCHS is expecting a one-time reimbursement from Medicare later this year that could total nearly $2 million. That payment is for implementing "meaningful use" technology in patient care and other areas.
Jeff Campbell and Dale Ward Sr. were welcomed as the newest members of the nine-member board of trustees.
Jim Anderson's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.