In 2018, Perry received a grant from the State of Illinois as part of the Medicaid Hospital Assessment Program. The grant was provided to help hospitals identify the transformations that are necessary to remain an ongoing provider for their community into the future.
Using the funds provided by the grant, Perry hired Kaufman Hall, a national health care consulting and planning organization. Kaufman Hall met with the Perry Board to educate them on the current health care landscape and the anticipated future evolution of health care.
Based on the perspective that current health care costs are unsustainable, Kaufman Hall presented to the board how that trend will affect Perry’s status as a small, rural hospital. From what Perry’s board learned, they developed a variety of key understandings that have contributed to the hospital’s most recent strategic plan:
All sets of payors—Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance providers are driving changes in the delivery of medical care. They are pushing health care systems to provide quality medical services at lower costs.
Telemedicine, still in its infancy, is part of the next evolution of health care. Telemedicine will provide great opportunities, especially for rural communities, like Princeton, by increasing access to specialty care, including mental health services. Kaufman Hall stressed that, “Health care organizations who have been proactive in responding to industry changes end up with better outcomes.” Kaufman Hall provided Perry’s board with key questions to consider, should the hospital strive to remain independent. At the end of the educational sessions with Kaufman Hall, the goal was for Perry’s board to go forward and evaluate Perry’s future based on the following four options:
1) Strive to remain independent. Perry would need to determine how to provide quality health care at lower costs and increase the number of patients who choose Perry as their health care provider.
2) Collaborate to achieve certain goals and objectives, while remaining independent by purchasing services from a larger health care system or other organizations for non-medical services such as technology.
3) Explore management agreements from larger health care systems that can provide the management level personnel through their resources or may hire some or all the current management personnel. The hospital would remain an independent hospital.
4) Explore an outright transfer of ownership (sell) to a larger health care system. The name of the hospital would change, personnel would become employees of the larger health care system. The newly named facility would adopt the policies and practices of the larger system resulting in access to more resources, providers, and health care innovation.
This led to many internal educational sessions among board members. The process included gathering information from other critical access hospitals and larger medical providers; completing an analysis of Perry’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats; and reviewing Perry’s clinical capability and ten-year building and equipment needs. Following this process, it was time to approach the City Council for a discussion on Perry’s future. What happened then will be discussed in the next press release.