Guest Opinion: Saint Alphonsus vows to keep working to improve care

READER'S VIEW HEALTH CARE

February 12, 2014 

At Saint Alphonsus, we have endeavored to maintain a respectful approach to communications regarding the antitrust lawsuit filed in 2012 against St. Luke's concerning its acquisition of Saltzer Medical Group. This case was a matter for U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill to decide based on the facts and state and federal antitrust laws. We are pleased with the decision.

As the first hospital established in Boise 120 years ago by the Sisters of the Holy Cross, Saint Alphonsus Health System today continues to be faithful stewards of the same mission to improve the health of our communities and provide healing and hope for patients. We serve everyone regardless of religious affiliation or economic circumstances. We continue to advance our mission with guidance from our local boards and leaders, as well as with support from a national faith-based system.

That is why in 2011 we launched a major physician-led effort to advance the delivery of health care in Idaho through what is called clinical integration. Our goal is to move from "volume to value." This patient-centered strategy is not unique to the Treasure Valley; it is occurring around the country in health systems that share our commitment to achieve better health and care at reduced costs.

To support this goal, we created the Saint Alphonsus Health Alliance. This physician-led group of both independent and hospital-employed providers is designed to deliver quality, coordinated care at lower costs. With more than 1,300 local clinicians - over 75 percent of them in independent practices - we are bringing about innovation and change while preserving patient choice and competition.

Being on the leading edge of change is not new for us. Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise was the first non-government hospital in Idaho to be recognized for its electronic health records system. All Saint Alphonsus hospitals and primary care practices use the system. So when you need a specialist, all of your medical records move with you, reducing unnecessary testing and costs. This system was developed at half the cost of other systems installed in Idaho today.

But the change we're driving is more than electronic health records. Together, Saint Alphonsus and independent Alliance physicians are creating tools that allow doctors to integrate the care their patients receive, regardless of the information system they use. The Alliance also contracts with major insurance carriers that establish both requirements and incentives for high quality care.

We are all working together to find the best way to provide the care our patients need for their specific diseases and conditions; and we're investing in wellness and prevention initiatives to keep you healthier and out of the hospital - the most expensive place to receive care.

While we are proud of our efforts thus far, we will never stop improving. You will be hearing more from us and our health alliance partners as we continue to advance care that works for you. Our commitment to the 120-year mission of Saint Alphonsus - and to our communities - has never been stronger as we strive to be your trusted health partner for life.

Sally Jeffcoat is the president and CEO of Saint Alphonsus Health System, a faith-based and not-for-profit health system with hospitals and clinics in southwestern Idaho and eastern Oregon. More on the mission of Saint Alphonsus can be found at www.saintalphonsus.org.

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