Hospitals brace for healthcare changes


Reporter - Kendall Downing

CARBONDALE, Ill. - Hospital systems are making strategic moves to get in line with the Affordable Care Act. Tuesday morning, Southern Illinois Healthcare in Carbondale announced it's joining the BJC Collaborative.

The group of six hospital systems across Missouri and Illinois will work together on developing new patient care techniques, saving money, and even lobbying lawmakers.

Healthcare as we know it is evolving.

"We're really in a very unique time, and we need to work together to change things," said Rex Budde, CEO of Southern Illinois Healthcare.

Budde said that's why the hospital system is partnering with the BJC Collaborative, a group of hospital systems in St. Louis, Kansas City, and other midwest cities.

"In the past, our challenge has been to take care and do acute care when patients are really, really sick. Now our incentive is changing to take care of the whole patient," said Budde.

The goal is finding ways to save money while serving more patients, as well as keeping those patients healthier for longer.

The deck is stacking against hospital systems, with declining reimbursements from Medicare, Medicaid, and even private insurances.

SIH officials want patients to know the hospital system is not being bought out, and it isn't merging. Patients won't notice a difference in their care, unless they need to go to St. Louis for services. The partnership will make that easier.

"We have to play our part. Getting together and finding better ways to do the work that we do," said Sandra Van Trease, BJC Group President.

Trease said working together, the hospital systems can share strategies, cost savings and data management in alignments she predicts will become the norm as the country implements healthcare for all.

"I do think that this kind of activity across the country, whether it be organizations coming together or merging in various types of partnerships is a phenomenon that we will continue to see for some time to come," she said.

There will be no leadership changes at SIH, and it will continue to be run locally, based in Carbondale.