By: Max Crampton-Thomas
4 min read December 2019 — AdventHealth promotes a model of healthcare based on prevention and promotion of healthier lifestyles to help keep a lid on the rising costs of medical attention. The organization is also trying to make use of technology to make it easier for patients to access healthcare even from their cellphones and make educated decisions about their wellness, said President and CEO of the West Florida Division Michael Schultz.
What has been AdventHealth’s key focus over the last year?
We worked to rebrand our healthcare business, including a name change to AdventHealth. The change was focused on bringing a new definition to healthcare. Historically, providers have been in the business of fixing health, but our philosophy is to maintain health and prevent episodes that could have been avoided through a healthy lifestyle.
Along with our rebranding as AdventHealth, we introduced the tagline, “Feel Whole,” which clearly illustrates our intent to promote a healthier lifestyle. We have been successful in the Tampa Bay market with respect to building a solid brand. Our expansion and acquisition projects are geared toward better covering the expanse of growth in the Tampa Bay market. We have a variety of things going on, from projects being completed or in the process of starting. We have also added to our list of assets, acquiring a couple of hospitals in Dade City and Ocala.
We are also looking into partnerships to bring healthcare to the home. I believe that is the way of the future for the delivery of healthcare because you can do so many things now with high-speed Wi-Fi that helps patients avoid unnecessary trips to the hospital to get diagnosed and treated.
Why has your organization decided to focus on preventative healthcare?
One of the key aspects of preventive healthcare is our model of never discharging a patient. Historically, hospitals wheel out their patients and wave goodbye to them. We have taken the stance that we don’t ever want to discharge a patient. A visit may end, but we connect with our patients before they leave any of our facilities and ask them if we can assist them through the next level of care. That may be a follow-up visit, a better dietary regimen or access to medication. We offer 95% of our 200,000-plus annual patients access to care navigation and a large percentage of our patients accept the offer. That is a way of making sure they don’t go home and start repeating the same actions that brought them to the hospital in the first place. This helps with maintaining health, reducing cost of healthcare and gets us in a space where we are directly connected to the patient.
We have been intentional in making sure our consumers have a wide variety of access to different sites of service based on cost. This allows them to make the smart decision and not go to an emergency room for a simple cough that could be treated at a physician’s office or an Urgent Care Center. We want to be transparent about the cost of healthcare so that consumers can make educated decisions regarding their medical needs.
We also are careful about marketing our different levels of care. One of the biggest initiatives we have begun to promote is connecting to our consumers via the way people get connected today, through their smartphones. We offer an app that helps you understand where you should and should not go for cost-effective care. We are hoping that through these types of apps we can better educate people to make decisions based on their condition and financial resources.
What challenges emerge from providing healthcare to diverse demographics, younger and older populations?
In many markets in and around Tampa Bay we are seeing a more elderly population moving in. Retirees are starting to discover the beauty of Tampa Bay. But in general Tampa Bay is a fast-growing, diverse community and it is a large geographic area. The key to addressing the healthcare needs of the diverse demographics is to ensure close to home access points, and the ability to connect anytime, anywhere.
We also believe we need to make every effort to make healthcare more affordable. Perhaps the way of the future is to help change the reimbursement model. Currently, you pay when you are sick; a health system is incentivized to provide services to get you well. What if we changed that? For example: a health system might get $10,000 a year regardless if you are well or sick. If you get sick, and it costs the health system $25,000 to take care of you, it loses money. If the Health System keeps you well, and able to keep medical costs at $5,000 because it was proactive in looking out for your wellness, the system makes money.
If we are going to help solve the cost problem in healthcare, we are going to have to work on aligning incentives around health.
How is the organization coping with the challenges of recruiting new healthcare talent?
First, there is a nursing shortage. At any given time, we have around 800 open positions at our seven facilities in the greater Tampa Bay market. It is difficult, particularly in Tampa, to recruit nurses because the sector is growing and there are many providers. We have developed partnerships with a number of schools to ensure that their nursing students have an opportunity to rotate through our facilities. We also have a partnership with Lincoln Memorial University and opened a nursing school at the AdventHealth Tampa campus. We started late in 2017 and our first class graduated in 2018.
Regarding the physician population, we have determined that there will be a supply shortage in the very near future. In this area, too, we have partnerships with several schools to make sure their students can do their rotations through our facilities, so they get exposed to us during their education and perhaps be invited to come work with us.
To learn more about our interviewee, visit: