Published on May 27, 2011

LMH Execs Talk with Local Business Community About Healthcare Changes

Since Massachusetts expanded health care coverage "Emergency room use increased 17 percent, mainly because there was a waiting time of six months to see a primary care physician." Gene Meyer, CEO, reported.

Read Jane Stevens, LJW, entire story

About 50 people from the local business community turned out for an early breakfast meeting yesterday in the Lawrence Memorial Hospital auditorium and listened, seemingly with great interest, to LMH chief executive office Gene Meyer and chief operating officer Karen Shumate describe the upcoming challenges with health care reform and the changing landscape of health care in general.

With health care premiums having increased 87 percent since 2000, said Shumate, businesses are understandably looking to ways to cut health costs.

An indicator of upcoming changes is what’s been happening in Massachusetts since it expanded health care coverage to most of the people in the state, Meyer told the group. "Emergency room use increased 17 percent, mainly because there was a waiting time of six months to see a primary care physician. Is the national system ready to accommodate another 32 million people? No. We don’t have enough primary care physicians."

One way that LMH is preparing for the changes locally is to keep the length of patient hospital stays to a minimum, not only to reduce immediate costs, but to reduce chances of hospital-based infections, whose risk increases the longer a person remains hospitalized and leads to longer hospital stays. They also plan to work more closely with nursing homes and home care and rehabilitation services to make sure patients get what they need in the days and months after discharge to prevent complications that put people back in the hospital.

"We also need to spend more efforts on preventative care," said Shumate. Some of that is written into the Affordable Care Act, which provides a long list of preventative tests, such as mammograms, that are now free, noted Meyer. But successful prevention will require engagement of the entire community. Projects such as LiveWell Lawrence, the Community Health Improvement Project and WorkWell Lawrence are good examples of how the Lawrence community is making changes to encourage a healthier lifestyle, he said.

The meeting was another in a series that LMH has held for the business community over the last two or three years to keep them updated about LMH efforts to boost quality while keeping costs down. Meyer and Shumate covered a lot of ground, and I’ll be going over Shumate’s PowerPoint presentation to put together more posts about changes in the local and regional health economy.

"We’re in a real transition period," said Meyer after the meeting. "We’re moving from a volume-based industry to a value-based industry. The volume-based approach was focused on how much more you could do for a patient, and the system was set up to over-utilize services. If we can change to a value-based system, we’ll be doing the right things in a quality fashion that reduces admissions, that creates value for the consumer and value for the provider. We’ve got a long way to go. And we’re going to have a foot in either camp for a while."

If you’ve got questions, put them in the comments, and we’ll get them answered for you.

LMH Execs Talk with Local Business Community About Healthcare Changes

Media Inquiries

For media inquiries related to LMH Health contact:
Amy Northrop
Director of Communication
Phone: 785-505-2931