Goldstein joins panel discussion on Healthcare Reform

On Tuesday, June 19, the Triangle Business Journal (TBJ) sponsored a Healthcare Reform Symposium in Raleigh. Brian Goldstein, MD, MBA, Chief Operating Officer of UNC Hospitals, was one of five guest panelists.

Goldstein joins panel discussion on Healthcare Reform click to enlarge From left: Brian Goldstein, Don Bradley, Doug Vinsel. Photo credit: Greg de Deugd
Goldstein joins panel discussion on Healthcare Reform click to enlarge Healthcare Reform Symposium. Photo credit: Greg de Deugd

In his opening remarks, Dr. Goldstein outlined a few important challenges facing a large academic medical center like UNC Health Care.

First, reimbursement is not keeping up with historical costs of providing care. If providers continue to do things the way they always have been, he said, they will soon be facing big losses.

Second, while it is good that accountability for providing quality care is becoming increasingly more important in determining reimbursement, the continued uncertainty around the reimbursement model presents a challenge.

Dr. Goldstein used Wayne Gretzky’s advice to “skate to where the puck is going to be” as an analogy for operating in the ambiguous environment surrounding potential changes in reimbursement for hospitals and other health care providers. “It’s hard to skate to where the puck is going,” he said, “if you don’t know how many pucks are going to be on the ice, or who holds the sticks.”

It may be obvious that changes to the healthcare model would be top of mind for large health care providers like UNC Health Care.  But, many of the discussion’s attendees were Triangle business owners concerned with the rising cost of health care and how it affects their organizations and employees. In light of the fact that the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act is expected any day now, the timing of the discussion was relevant.

Health care spending currently makes up 17 percent of the United States gross domestic product, a higher percentage than in any other developed nation. Additionally, 50 percent of what Americans spend on health care is consumed by only 5 percent of the population, a fact pointed out by panelist Doug Vinsel, president of Duke Raleigh Hospital.

In addition to Dr. Goldstein and Mr. Vinsel, the panel included Don Bradley, senior vice president and chief medical officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC; Rick Kelly, managing partner, Progressive Benefit Solutions; and Jeff Miller, CEO, NC Health Information Exchange. The discussion was moderated by Jason DeBruyn, the Triangle Business Journal’s healthcare reporter.

Each panelist brought a distinct perspective to the discussion, but all five agreed on three major points. Regardless of the Supreme Court ruling on the Accountable Care Act, the healthcare model as it stands today is not sustainable. They also agreed that everyone along the healthcare food chain, so to speak, from providers to payors, will need to work together more collaboratively in order to cut costs across the board. To that end, reducing non-value added waste across the healthcare model is going to be key, because while cutting cost is important, patient care cannot be compromised.

“The change may be coming slowly,” said Dr. Goldstein, “but it is going to be enduring and it is going to be permanent.”

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