ThedaCare surprised attendees at its annual Community Conversation Wednesday, Sept. 7, with an interactive event aimed at blasting a handful of health-care myths.
One myth that attendees saw deconstructed: the idea that more expensive care is better care.
A video screened at the event followed a pneumonia patient through ThedaCare’s team approach to care and through a typical treatment regimen, keeping a tally of costs for each. The result? The average ThedaCare pneumonia patient pays $10,000 versus a state average of $16,500 for the same outcome.
“ThedaCare is helping lead the way in providing the right care in the right place at the right time,” said ThedaCare President and CEO Dean Gruner. “We believe it’s possible to provide better medical outcomes at a lower cost, and we’re enthusiastic about finding innovative ways to care for patients that benefit both their health and their finances.”
Gruner explained how ThedaCare’s team approach and focus on process improvement deliver better care at a lower cost.
“Our patients benefit from the close collaboration of their physicians, specialists and support staff. With everyone on the same page, care is more efficient and recovery is measurably faster. Similarly, our staff is always looking to improve safety and patient outcomes while reducing cost, and our patients have a voice in that process,” he said.
The event also disproved the myth that longer hospital stays are better for the patient. Instead, innovative ThedaCare At Home initiatives shared with attendees illustrated that some recovery happens best at home.
One example: the 30-day readmission rates for individuals hospitalized for congestive heart failure decreased from 15 percent to 4 percent with ThedaCare’s introduction of telemedicine in combination with home visits by registered nurses.
Also blasted was the notion that when it comes to innovation, ThedaCare is a small fish in a big health care pond. Event attendees learned that more than 300 representatives from major medical institutions like Stanford, Johns Hopkins and Harvard Vanguard have visited ThedaCare to study its success in managing costs and improving quality.
In addition, publications from Health Affairs to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times have run stories on ThedaCare’s innovative health care delivery model.
“Bigger is not necessarily better,” Gruner said. “The future of health care will be built on innovative care that embraces the changes in the industry.”
ThedaCare’s commitment to the community extends beyond the doors of its facilities. The health system chaired the most recent United Way campaign; sponsors the Sole Burner Walk, which raises money to fight cancer; and partners with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin-Fox Valley and Affinity Health System to provide a mental health clinic for area children.
ThedaCare contributed more than $34 million in unreimbursed programs and services to the community in 2010. These services include providing health care to people who cannot pay for it; ThedaCare On Call, a 24-hour hotline that answers health related questions; free community health programs; and support of the Fox Cities Community Health Center.