Community Conversations

ThedaCare recently hosted Community Conversation breakfast events for community leaders throughout Northeast Wisconsin to discuss expectations ThedaCare’s owners (community members) have of the healthcare system.  The expectations focused on: 

  • Leadership in Healthcare Value
  • Prudent Financial Oversight
  • Access to Coordinated Health Care
  • Continual Improvement in Community Health

Two videos shared at these breakfast events are featured in the left hand column.  The first video summarizes ThedaCare’s efforts to improve community health through its CHAT initiative.  In 2012, ThedaCare provided more than $41 million in unreimbursed services to the communities it serves.

The second highlights one example of how doing the right thing for the patient and the community doesn’t always enhance ThedaCare’s bottom line.  For example, improving readmission rates keeps people out of the hospital which is best for the patient but negatively impacts the hospital’s bottom line.  This is one example of how owner expectations of a non-profit healthcare system are significantly different from owner expectations of a for-profit business.

During lively table discussions at the Community Conversation breakfasts in the Fox Cities, Oshkosh, New London, Waupaca and Shawano, community members shared their thoughts on how well ThedaCare is meeting expectations of our communities and where we are falling short.  In addition, community members posed questions of ThedaCare, which we have listed below complete with responses from ThedaCare’s leadership team.

Community Conversation Questions and Answers

Q. How can ThedaCare work directly w/schools to help kids with prevention and coping skills?
A. ThedaCare is a major supporter of Catalpa Health Pediatric Behavioral Health Center which has a school liaison who works with Fox Valley school administrators and counselors to help prevent issues or identify them early.  ThedaCare has a variety of other school partnerships focused on improving health.  In the Fox Cities, ThedaCare is a supporter of Education for Healthy Kids which engages teachers and administrators in creating healthy school environments.  In Neenah and Oshkosh, ThedaCare has partnerships with nearby schools to provide mentors to underprivileged youth.

Q. Is ThedaCare ever going to take a lead in alternative medicine?(healthy lifestyles, holistic)
A. We don’t currently have a system-wide initiative to aggressively take a lead in “alternative” medicine, however, we are getting much more involved in lifestyle and health improvement throughout the communities we serve.

Q. Can ThedaCare take a lead on educating the community about the insurance exchanges coming in the next few weeks?
A. This November, the Wisconsin Institute of Public Policy and Service held a state wide conference at UW Fox Valley on the Insurance Marketplace.  One evening was focused on the public forum and approximately 80 community residents attended and participated in the discussion.  On Friday, the focus was on the professional forum which related to both community residents and healthcare professionals.  Approximately 150-200 participants attended.  ThedaCare was a major sponsor of this conference.  In addition to this community activity, ThedaCare has actively created a forum for information through our community magazine and website pages dedicated to addressing questions related to the Insurance Marketplace.  We have a robust area on www.ThedaCare.org with articles from the magazine as well as additional content. In addition, we have brochures available in all clinics and hospitals with FAQ’s (long and short), and a “context” document posted on Heartbeat for our employees to reference.  Finally, we implemented an online education module that helps our employees find information so they in turn can better address patient questions. 

Q. How is ThedaCare gearing up for the Affordable Care Act as it relates to preventative health screenings?
A. Our providers and teams are currently the best in the state at delivering preventive care according to the Wisconsin Collaborative on Healthcare Quality.  We plan to build upon this success to better serve the patients who are medically higher risk or who have barriers to care. We will also create new processes to reach out to patients who we are accountable for, but do not see us on a routine basis, and therefore may currently “fall through the cracks” on preventative care.   In addition, for all patients including those who are currently healthy, we will be making it easier to connect with us by increasing our use of the mythedacare.org electronic messaging portal. 

Q. How will the Affordable Care Act impact ThedaCare? What does the ACA mean to healthcare here in the Fox Cities?
A. While much is unknown about what actual impact the Affordable Care Act will have locally, we do anticipate a couple significant changes.  First, more people will be insured which will increase the demand for healthcare services and we need to be ready to handle that increase.  Second, payment for healthcare services will continue to tighten.  Fortunately, ThedaCare is several years into our ThedaCare Improvement System work to create a culture that eliminates waste and improves efficiencies.  This work positions us well in the new healthcare marketplace. 

Q. Does ThedaCare have plans for expansion or further collaboration?
A. There are no current plans for expansion of the ThedaCare system beyond the eight county service area at this time.  ThedaCare is always open to collaboration on efforts that improve health for the community and decrease costs.   

Q. How can we expand on healthy life style improvements?
A. ThedaCare’s Community Health Action Team (CHAT) initiatives seek to address systemic health issues in our communities including healthy lifestyle improvements.  Examples include the Weight of the Fox Valley initiative and a series of obesity efforts underway in New London.  In addition, efforts are underway in our primary care clinics to place greater attention on lifestyle improvements. 

Q. With ThedaCare lowering costs - what's in it for ThedaCare? What's in it for ThedaCare if we keep reducing costs/utilization for the community/you are going to run yourself out of business?
A. Our goal is to create healthier communities at lower cost than other areas making our region a highly desirable place to raise a family and grow a business.  When our communities thrive we thrive.  Eventually, payment for volume of care will evolve into payment for keeping people healthy and ThedaCare wants to be leading that charge.

Q. How is ThedaCare responding to mental health needs in our community (teen suicide)?
A. ThedaCare led a community plunge in 2010 that brought 150 mental health stakeholders together to improve access to mental health care.  As a result of that summit, several initiatives emerged including the NEW Mental Health Connection linking area mental health providers; a primary care mental health initiative to improve Primary Care provider ability to address basic mental health issues; No Wrong Door effort to make sure people don’t fall through the cracks when seeking mental health services and Teen Screen.   ThedaCare, through CHAT, is a major funder of the Teen Screen effort to identify and intervene with 9th grade students who are considering suicide or are dealing with depression.

Q. How does ThedaCare plan to maintain quality providers in the new healthcare reform environment?
A. ThedaCare’s primary care provider turnover rate for 2013 is 0.9%; which is more than 6 percentage points below state and national averages (7%).  In addition, ThedaCare’s Primary Care turnover rate for the past 6 years combined is 2.2% which is one indicator that we have created a challenging and rewarding environment for our physicians.  Retention and engagement of our physicians is critical and one of our top priorities.  By providing an excellent venue for our doctors to practice, we believe we will continue to recruit and retain great doctors in the new healthcare environment.

Q. How do we get people to pay for health, rather than sickness?  What is ThedaCare doing to help the community take ownership of its own health? What does ThedaCare do to bring a preventative health focus?
A. Payment in the existing fee for service world of healthcare rewarded us for doing things to people when they got sick, not paying for preventing people from getting sick in the first place.  That trend truly seems to be changing.  Whether employers or payers, the mindset seems to be shifting toward preventing disease and illness.  Instead of fee for service, this type of model would be paying healthcare providers for a population of patients and maintaining health and wellness will be more the focus.  To be successful in keeping people healthy, healthcare systems will need to collaborative with providers, payers and employers, as well as patients, so we are all on the same page. 

Q. What is going to happen with healthcare costs?
A. In general, we are starting to see health care costs level off.  Increases are now well into the single digits from the previous double digits. There are still pockets of high cost healthcare in the country.

Q. How do you sustain the business when revenues are declining?
A. The answer for ThedaCare is to manage our resources well and we do that through the ThedaCare Improvement System based on lean processes used by Toyota.  We’ve been transforming our culture over the past eight years to one that continuously focuses on the needs of the patient.  Efforts that don’t provide value to the patient are waste and we work to trim that waste everyday here at ThedaCare.  In addition, we need to continue to grow and draw more patients into our best practice care models. If we care for people with the best value (highest quality at the lowest cost) more patients will continue to seek us out for their care.

Q. How can we get cost information prior to rendering services?
A. Estimates of cost information about major hospital procedures are available through the cashier’s office at the hospital of service.  For all five ThedaCare hospitals, you can call 920-831-5002 or 920-729-3117 for price quotes.  For procedures through the primary care office you can call the Clinic billing office at 920-996-3200.  They should be able to help you.

Q. How can we streamline care coordination when working with independent providers, especially specialists?
A. We recognize coordination of care between primary care and specialty providers is a significant opportunity not only for ThedaCare but for most healthcare providers across the country.  ThedaCare is currently developing a new care planning model that will leverage our electronic medical records to connect all providers involved in your care so that you and all your providers are on the same page at all times.

Q. How does ThedaCare bring in outside perspective to advance the organization in meeting goals and establishing correct goals?
A. One of the many benefits of sharing our work with other health systems across the country and world is that we learn as much from them as they learn from us.  Virtually every week leaders from major healthcare systems visit ThedaCare and bring outside perspectives that help us improve our work and see what is possible.

Q. How can employers wade through vast amounts of information and stay well educated on healthcare?
A. Some suggestions for employers to stay well educated on healthcare are: Read Benefit Professional publications (i.e. World at Work), consulting briefs (from national and local consulting firms), online forums, etc Attend webinars (many of which are free) hosted by various vendors that offer a solution for some manner of regulatory compliance/administration Network with other employers Engage benefit consultants.  These consultants have legal teams that spend hours reading every page of the regulations.  They can provide solid information on what employers need to know as they determine how to comply.

Q. Where is initiative between ThedaCare and Bellin going? 
A. ThedaCare and Bellin are partners in the Pioneer Accountable Care Organization program – a national pilot effort to test new ways to compensate healthcare providers based on health outcomes and quality rather than for performing more procedures.  In the first year of this pilot, Bellin-ThedaCare Healthcare Partners stood out as the lowest cost provider among 32 organizations from across the country.

Q. What are the criteria used for selecting insurance companies?
A. ThedaCare’s approach has been to align with all major insurance companies operating within our service area to remove this barrier to access for our patients.  To date, we have been successful in accomplishing that task and most patients within our market should have access to ThedaCare.  However, there may be circumstances which prevent us from participating, i.e. an insurance company choses to exclusively align with one provider system for a specific product.  While those circumstances are unusual, they still could occur. 

Q. What's our relationship with Affinity and Aurora as far as collaboration on community health? 
A. Community health is one area in which ThedaCare does not compete with area health systems.  ThedaCare works with Affinity and Aurora to identify local health needs and has identified obesity as the top initiative our three systems will work on together in 2014.  Affinity Health is also represented on ThedaCare’s CHAT team and partners on local solutions to identified health issues. 

Q. What is the future of ThedaCare?  How likely is it that community-based ThedaCare hospitals become part of larger system?  
A. We still feel strongly about our community based health care relationships, roots and history and have positioned ourselves well to continue to be successful in this model.  We are financially strong, have the tools to manage our costs, forge relationships that make good business sense for our growth, integrate into our community and value that relationship.  We still have to be smart on our strategy and business model so it fits well with the every changing market, including the Affordable Care Act.

Q. What is ThedaCare doing with digital medicine? Digital medicine is growing rapidly throughout the country.
A. ThedaCare has already incorporated digital medicine into some aspects of our care delivery and we also have several future initiatives identified that will continue to grow and appropriately integrate digital medicine into our care delivery processes. 

Q. How does the doctor know when to stop with end of life care? What are you doing?
A. The most critical factor is knowing the goal of therapy - is it cure or comfort? We then need to understand whether treatment is providing benefit.  We have to understand and evaluate progress (or lack of progress) and ask ourselves: “Is the patient better or worse or the same?” Sometimes this evaluation occurs daily (as in a patient in the ICU). If the treatment is doing more harm than good, we have to rethink the goals and objectives. If there is a chance for recovery or cure, we will generally accept some harm/risk in short term. If we can’t cure the patient’s disease, we have to be careful how much misery the patient is experiencing.  The final point of consideration includes the patient and family desires. We can’t force treatments upon people.  The patient is the boss of their own body (this is a very solid ethical principle), and they tell us what they want (i.e.  goals).  In cases in which the goal shifts from getting better to comfort, there are still many things that can be done to treat the symptoms and maintain quality of life and hospice can be an invaluable service at that time.  

Q. How do you engage & help consumers understand costs?
A. There are two main ways to help our patients understand their cost for health care.  One is to work directly with the patient’s insurance company or employer.  They would have the specific coverage plan and deductible information.  Otherwise, within the physician practices, our billers can access each patient’s commercial insurance plan options and understand coverage and deductibles as well.  The main barrier is that insurance companies typically negotiate payment rates with a healthcare organization that aren’t often easy to find or understand.  Some insurance companies, like United HealthCare, have customized pricing information on their website that patients can access.  Presently, this may be one of the most accurate ways to understand the cost of healthcare. 

Q. How does ThedaCare include services in the community (YMCA, senior center, diet, exercise, mental health rehab) in the ongoing plan of care for patients? 
A. We recognize that our community hosts a variety of services that can help keep our patients healthy.  Our goal is to do a better job of informing our providers of the available services so they can make them more accessible for patients.  

Q. How do we share regionally across the various communities what we have learned from the various CHAT activities? 
A. Dedicated CHAT staff work in all the communities we serve so they get to know which efforts are underway in each area.  With this overall knowledge they are able to recommend linkages and synergies among programs whenever possible. 

Q. Is the Weight of the Fox Valley addressing the use of locally grown food? 
A. Food Systems will be one of 6 areas of focus through Weight of the Fox Valley; however that focus area may not be locally organized until sometime later in 2014.  

Q. How is ThedaCare incorporating alternative forms of medicine or treatment?  
A. ThedaCare doesn’t currently have a system-wide initiative to aggressively take a lead in “alternative” medicine, however we are getting much more involved in lifestyle medicine and health improvement throughout the communities we serve.

Q. How do employers and consumers access outcome data?  What is ThedaCare doing to make it easily accessible? 
A. ThedaCare is a founding member of the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality (WCHQ).  WCHQ (found at wchq.org) gathers and publically reports quality metrics for many Wisconsin healthcare organizations in a “user friendly” way so comparisons can be made.  Hospitalcompare.gov is another source for hospital quality performance.  However, the lack of consistent, agreed upon industry outcome measures makes comparison reporting very difficult. Cost comparisons between hospitals and providers are much more difficult as most people pay for their care through insurance companies.   Insurance companies charge patients different prices based on the plan design.   Insurance companies can have numerous plan designs tailored to employer or individual needs.  

Q. How do we bring more specialties into Shawano? 
A. In our previously competitive arrangement, some specialists were reluctant to choose between the clinic and hospital. With this problem resolved, there is more collaboration and less tension among providers.  With ThedaCare’s recruitment services, our new consulting relationship with Mayo Clinic, and our new campus approach, Shawano will be an even more attractive place for specialists to practice. 

Q. Why can't I choose the doctor I want?  I don't want to pick a doctor from a list. I've done research w/family & friends.
A. ThedaCare’s goal is to provide our customers with as many options as possible when choosing a physician.  We realize that many variables are considered when choosing a physician including credentials, office location, age, gender, family recommendations, etc… Regardless of what physician and location is chosen, we are committed to ensuring that all our customers receive the same level of service and quality care.  In order to ensure that customers have good access to the physician they choose, we need to cap the number of patients that an individual physician can have on their panel of patients.  If a provider has too many patients, your ability to see that provider when needed declines which generally leads to decreased satisfaction for the customer.

Q. What will we do with old hospital in Shawano?
A. The city and ThedaCare/Shawano Medical Center have been working together to find the best use for this valuable property. A citizen’s committee, convened by the City of Shawano, has proposed two options for use of the current hospital site. These options will be presented to the city’s Planning Commission. The next steps involve obtaining clear title to the property and then searching for a developer to reuse the site.

Q. How can the community get more engaged in your community health work? 
A. There are several ways community members can become engaged with ThedaCare’s work.  First, community members are invited to participate in our various improvement planning sessions to offer the patient perspective or merely a set of “fresh eyes” to help us see things we may be too close to see.  Second, CHAT periodically hosts a plunge to help understand and address local health issues.  If interested in attending a plunge, contact Paula Morgen at 920-830-5848.  Third, consider volunteering at a ThedaCare hospital or participating in a local foundation fundraiser.   

Q. Is there a plan to evaluate the overall impact of the CHAT work? 
A. CHAT efforts are measured by the impact of each initiative that emerges from the CHAT process.  All emerging initiatives have their own set of goals and metrics.

Q. What does value-based payments really mean?  
A. Value-based purchasing is a strategy used by employers, and increasingly the Federal government, to use their market power as a force to promote quality and value of health care services. The overarching goal of VBP is a health care system, built on value, with a clear return for every dollar spent. Value-based health care purchasing enables buyers to hold providers of health care accountable for both cost and quality of care. Value-based purchasing brings together information on the quality of health care, including patient outcomes and health status, with data on the dollar outlays going towards health. It focuses on managing the use of the health care system to reduce inappropriate care and to identify and reward the best-performing providers. Key elements of value-based purchasing include measuring and reporting comparative performance; paying providers differentially based on performance; and designing health benefit strategies and incentives to encourage individuals to select high value services and providers and better manage their own health and health care.

Q. How do we get those who are uninsured to utilize primary care vs. ER?
A. Our answer is to increase awareness and education, create new processes, and improve access so that it is more convenient and efficient to use primary care rather than the ER when appropriate.

Q. With being in the Mayo Network what is the benefit? 
A. The benefit of being part of the Mayo Clinic Care Network is that our specialists have ready access to 2500 Mayo Clinic providers who can review complex cases and provide a second opinion without the patient needing to travel to Rochester, Minnesota or another academic medical center, in most cases.  It provides peace of mind to both patients and providers that they are doing the right thing.

Q. Is their going to be a fitness/wellness program in the new Shawano building (campus) for the community?
A. A focus on fitness/wellness will be incorporated into the design through details such as a healthy-option cafeteria and outside area for walking/reflection. Having the Rehabilitation Services (including physical therapy, massage, cardiac/pulmonary rehab) on the site will also have a major impact on the wellness focus. There will also be classroom space available for community classes. The specifics of the program will be developed later in the planning process.

Q. What is the difference between a medical center and hospital? 
A. When most people think of a hospital, they think of a patient in bed. This will continue to be available at the new ThedaCare Medical Center Shawano, but it will not be the primary focus of the facility. As healthcare tends toward more outpatient care and preventative care (such as wellness education), much of the care provided in this new healthcare facility will take place away from the bedside. The term “medical center” is a much better description of the comprehensive care that will be offered.

Q. Can we provide more services here so people don't have to travel or have transport services to help with that?
A. The goal is to have 90% of care delivered locally.

Q. What will it take to get dental included in healthcare?
A. Dental has always been covered primarily through a separate benefit plan from health insurance.  At this point we do not foresee dental being included in healthcare benefit coverage.

Q. Why is ThedaCare not offering the drive thru flu clinic for the community?
A. When Shawano Medical Center integrated with ThedaCare in 2011 there was a lot of change happening and this program took a back seat.  There is interest in possibly resurrecting it again and a team will look into it. 

Q. Why can’t patients get one total bill for care rather than all coming separate? 
A. We are working on a process to consolidate ThedaCare’s bills to one bill.  We understand this is an issue and anticipate being able to do this in the near future. What makes this more complicated is that many of the specialty bills come from independent specialty physicians.  They are a separate companies that partners with ThedaCare, so they create their own bills for “their company” while we create the bills applicable to ThedaCare’s work.

Q. What mental health services are available in the Shawano community? 
A. Elena Tuskenis, MD, has joined ThedaCare Behavioral Health as a psychiatrist and serves the ThedaCare Physicians-Shawano location. She is a general adult psychiatrist who specializes in mood disorders, anxiety disorders and psychosomatic medicine. In addition, ThedaCare has two mental health clinicians. We provide care for children and adults for mental health.  Any psychological testing or substance abuse issues are currently referred to the Fox Valley.

Q. How is ThedaCare going to address the staffing needs for the new Shawano site?
A. In planning for the new medical center, we are focusing on both the physical changes and process changes that will make a visit to ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano a good experience for patients. This includes studying how and where staff are needed, and how we can best meet staffing needs. The ThedaCare Improvement System, a nationally-recognized way to make positive changes for patients and staff, is being used to look at where and when we will need caregivers in the new processes. 

Q. What services are going to be provided in the new Shawano hospital? Will there be radiation treatment, oncology (chemotherapy) services? By what group? 
A. Our goal is to provide one-stop shopping for ThedaCare patients with physician, hospital and outpatient services on one campus.  We believe this campus approach will provide: Open campus for patients from other clinics Less confusion, more convenience about where to receive care Continued emphasis on local care Renewed emphasis on wellness as a major component of care Reduced redundancies resulting in lower cost in the future Services at the new facility will include: Inpatient (overnight) care; Outpatient services; Rehabilitation services; Radiology (Imaging), Laboratory, Pulmonary care, Inpatient and Outpatient surgery, Obstetrics (baby delivery and care) and 24-hour emergency care. ThedaCare Physicians-Shawano will continue to provide primary care (family doctors) and specialty care. Fox Valley Oncology and Hematology will continue to provide services in the new site. The Transitional Care program (swing beds) will continue at the new facility.

Q. What is ThedaCare doing to address what services are available locally and how do we know what they are?  
A. ThedaCare’s mission is to improve the health of the communities we serve.  A foundation of this is our philosophy that we strive to provide the same level of high quality, high value care in our rural communities as we do in the Fox Valley.  Each community is unique, but in general, some of the criteria used to help determine what services are “approp
riate” in rural communities are:  clinical outcomes, frequency/volume of the demand, physician availability, available technology, training requirements, and cost.

Q. How is ThedaCare using social media to reach out to teens? 
A. The real challenge here is to help teens become more interested in their health.  Just as with other audiences, social media as a tool is only effective when someone wants to participate in the discussion.  ThedaCare is working to engage teens in discussions around their health in a variety of ways including Party at the PAC, community gardens at schools, Voices of Men, INCLUDE, and a number of other initiatives.  Giving ownership of the topic and gaining involvement is one way we are working with teens to improve the health our communities. 

Q. How can ThedaCare better share/market all the wonderful things they do to provide services to our communities?
A. Spreading the word on about our “stories” can be tricky.  First, we need to walk a fine-line when telling our stories by focusing on providing useful information versus being boastful.  Additionally, reaching more people can be expensive particularly when doing so through mass media advertising.  As a non-profit organization, we strive to use the community’s dollars wisely.  Thus we often ask ourselves when investing in communications, “would a patient be willing to pay for this expense as an add-on to their bill?”  That being said, twice a year we send out a new edition of our ThedaCare Magazine to inform our communities of news and information taking place across ThedaCare.  Additionally we do utilize communications in various forms (advertising, social media, news articles, etc.) to keep our communities apprised of new services and care approaches.  However, the biggest form of communication we rely on is the positive “word-of-mouth” from patients sharing their stories with friends, family members and neighbors.

Q. Does ThedaCare have a website for picking/reviewing a doctor? 
A. Yes, ThedaCare has provider profiles on its website at thedacare.org. 

Q. How do we address minority population issues?
A. As part of our hospital community health needs assessment conducted earlier this year, we took a look at vulnerable populations that exist in each market and have included strategies on our community health improvement plans to address those populations most in need.   

Q. Where are the majority of services provided? (demographics, age, income, background)
A. It would take significant time and resources to come up with the answer specific to ThedaCare, however our experience likely mimics that of the nation.  We know that people age 65 and over comprised approximately 13 percent of the U.S. population in 2002, but they consumed 36 percent of total U.S. personal health care expenses. A principal reason why health care spending is concentrated among the elderly is that a much higher proportion of the elderly than the non-elderly have expensive chronic conditions.  

Q. Is there a need for us to have a primary care physician? We see a nurse practitioner in Iola and have no physician of record because we have been very healthy over the past number of years.
A. Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants are trained to provide high quality care to the people ThedaCare serves. They are trained and licensed to prescribe medications and  treat simple and complex health problems.  In some areas they serve as the Primary Care Provider and provide needed access to services in the areas of prevention of illness, chronic disease care such as diabetes and hypertension, and acute care visits when people become ill.  They adhere to the same quality and satisfaction standards of all ThedaCare providers. 

Q. With coordinated care how do I help my primary physician make further follow ups/referrals within the ThedaCare system to specialists, other services - therapy, mental health, cardio care, etc.?
A. Your primary care physician should know when referrals are necessary; however you are in charge of your own health and healthcare.  If you believe additional referrals are necessary, have an open and candid conversation with your provider. 

Q. Can ThedaCare get more involved with schools to address obesity with kids?
A. ThedaCare is one of several area organizations helping to lead Weight of the Fox Valley, a three-county initiative to reduce obesity among all ages.  As part of that effort, an Action Team focused on what is being done in schools to address obesity will launch early next year.   

Q. Does the local hospital foundation money stay local? 
A. Yes.  While all foundations within the ThedaCare system have a common administrative structure, the funds raised locally will stay local if the donor asks for their gift to used locally.

Q. How secure is the EPIC medical record system?
A. ThedaCare takes health record security very seriously.  Every time anyone accesses a health record in our Epic Electronic Medical Record system that access is recorded.    We get warnings when the system thinks someone might be looking at information they have no reason to be looking at.  We follow-up on these warnings and review them with those involved.  Appropriate action is taken if someone has accessed a health record for the wrong reasons.  We also have a process called “break the glass.”  Break the glass is a secure process that asks the person accessing a health record to tell us why they need to access that record.  So, with “break the glass” in place, the warning system, and the recording of all activity we are very confident in our security process.  We also utilize all the latest security tools to protect the records from external people with bad intentions trying to enter or hack the system. 

Q. What can you do to make bills more understandable?
A. ThedaCare started a project in November that will redesign our billing process making bills easier to read and understand, and moving to having one bill for all ThedaCare activity regardless of what location(s) you visited.

Q. Will the New London Foundation director stay in New London? 
A. Yes, the Foundation director will remain in New London.  She will become a member of the ThedaCare Foundation team, which means she will have additional support and more professional philanthropy colleagues to do the important work of the Foundation in the community, while also having the opportunity to share her expertise throughout the region.