Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

April 9, 2014

Al Pilong: Reshaping of health care is underway

The economic costs and benefits associated with advancements of medicine during the past century created new career fields, brought jobs to communities, and resulted in development of the health insurance industry and government health care through Medicare and Medicaid. Access to care was expanded.

Health care as a segment of the economy now is being transformed from a reactive model that focuses on curing a person with an acute problem to a proactive model that emphasizes prevention and wellness.

The continuum of care focuses on prevention and diagnostics before the need for acute care. Instead of long hospital stays, patient therapy and follow-up now is centered in the community and home settings.

These changes are meant to improve the overall health of individuals as well as drive down the costs of health care.

In the Grand Traverse region the Michigan Health and Hospital Association estimates there are 12,000 jobs in the health care sector. Munson Medical Center alone employs 3,700 people. While Munson Medical Center is still hiring, it does so at a different rate than in the past. Instead of perhaps 400 new employees a year, that number may be closer to 300 going forward.

However, as jobs decrease in the inpatient area, they increase in the outpatient setting.

Munson Medical Center leadership’s goal is to respond to the reshaping of the health care sector from a position of strength. The hospital’s quality of care remains high, and its financial status stable, yet the hospital needs to adapt to a changing model of how health care is delivered.

This year, Munson Medical Center expects to see 2,000 fewer inpatient admissions, which is largely a result of the payer shift to more outpatient care. These people will still receive care, but in an outpatient setting that is less expensive and more appropriate for the patient.

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