ThedaCare Hospitals Controlling Costs

January 6, 2011

Quality Helps Keep Rate Increases the Lowest in Northeast Wisconsin

High quality and low costs go hand-in-hand at ThedaCare where a dedication to constant improvement led the ThedaCare Board of Trustees to approve hospital rate increases that are the lowest in Northeast Wisconsin and will remain well below the state average of 5.3 percent.

Beginning in mid-January, hospital rates at Appleton Medical Center, New London Family Medical Center and Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah will rise 3 percent. Rates at Riverside Medical Center in Waupaca will increase 3.5 percent. This is the sixth year in a row ThedaCare’s rates were 4 percent or less and were the lowest of any health system in Northeastern Wisconsin. The cumulative impact during the past six years is that ThedaCare’s price increases of 21.4% have been approximately half of the state average of 40.3%.

Only Bellin Health is increasing its rates 3 percent, too. Affinity is raising its rates 3.9 percent; Aurora 4.9 percent, and St. Mary’s and St. Vincent hospitals 5 percent, according to Wisconsin Hospital Association.

ThedaCare’s modest increases represent the organization’s recognition of the tough economic times and to fulfill its responsibility to remove wasteful steps in its delivery of healthcare, according to Dean Gruner, MD, president and chief executive officer of ThedaCare.

“By focusing on quality, waste is removed and costs are controlled,” Dr. Gruner said. “Our employees work hard to improve the quality of care, which results in lower costs. We are always looking for ways to reduce inefficiencies and know there are more areas where we can improve.”

ThedaCare hospitals continually post some of the lowest – if not the lowest – cost increases in northeastern Wisconsin. In 2010, Appleton Medical Center, New London Family Medical Center and Theda Clark reported 2 percent increases while Riverside Medical Center posted a 3 percent increase. In 2009, rates at Appleton Medical Center and Theda Clark increased 3.7 percent, which was still more than 1 percent less than area competitors.

ThedaCare is a national leader for incorporating “lean” business practices pioneered by the Toyota Production System. Since 2003, ThedaCare investments in redesigning care delivery based on patient input and technology are improving patients’ access to health care, and the quality and efficiency of that care they receive. Over the past several years, ThedaCare has held hundreds of “rapid improvement events,” when management, staff, doctors and even patients join together as a team to improve how care is delivered by removing waste and efficiencies.

“Each of ThedaCare’s 5,540 employees are focused on keeping quality up and costs down,” said John Ross, ThedaCare’s vice president for financial operations. “We keep finding ways to provide high-quality healthcare more efficiently and to constantly improve what we do. Our goal is to keep our rates as low as possible while being responsible stewards of the community’s resources.”

ThedaCare (www.thedacare.org) is a community-owned health system consisting of Appleton Medical Center, Theda Clark Medical Center, New London Family Medical Center, Riverside Medical Center in Waupaca, ThedaCare Physicians, Ingenuity First, and other health care services. ThedaCare is the largest employer in Northeast Wisconsin with nearly 5,540 employees. To get the latest health news, follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information, media may contact Megan Wilcox, APR, (megan.wilcox@thedacare.org), public relations and corporate specialist for ThedaCare, at (920) 830-5847, or call the Theda Clark Medical Center switchboard at (920) 729-3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.