ThedaCare Gets the Value Right

Come On Down to Healthcare System’s Community Conversation

Healthcare is serious business, but Fox Cities leaders got an entertaining, yet informative look this morning at how ThedaCare™ provides quality care at lower costs, while helping to improve the health of local communities.

The Appleton-based health system treated attendees at its annual Community Conversation to “The Value is Right,” an interactive game show Wednesday morning at the Best Western Bridgewood Resort Hotel & Conference Center in Neenah. Audience members were picked as contestants for the show, which was hosted by ThedaCare President and CEO Dean Gruner, MD, and Mike Radtke, director of diagnostic imaging for ThedaCare. Through this entertaining format, Dr. Gruner also answered 15 questions posed by community members on a variety of topics from how ThedaCare may be affected by the Affordable Care Act to costs of hospital room amenities.

“Everyone is concerned about healthcare whether it’s cost, quality or both,” said Dr. Gruner. “Our goal with the annual Community Conversation events is to share information with the public about what we’re doing to address those issues as well as what we’re doing to fulfill our mission, which is creating a healthier community. This year, we decided to have a little fun with it and share information in a really fun format.”

Through games such as Punch It, Number Pick, Cliff Climber, and the Showcase Showdown, contestants answered questions involving various statistics about ThedaCare ranging from the decrease in surgical infection rates at Appleton Medical Center and Theda Clark Medical Center during the past two years (32 percent) to the number of other healthcare systems that visited ThedaCare to observe how it improved quality while eliminating waste (86).

“Consumers are very concerned about the cost of healthcare – and we are too, but ThedaCare is doing a number of initiatives to keep costs in line and creating new models for our country,” Dr. Gruner said. “For example, we along with Bellin Health and our physician partners participate  in the Pioneer ACO pilot, which is a Medicare program with a different payment model.

“We wanted to do something different this year and instead of just talking about what we wanted the community to know, we went out and asked people what they wanted to know,” he said. “Some of the questions we received – and we got about 100 of them – we integrated into our games while others are answered in printed form. Since ThedaCare is community owned, you are our owners and we want to give you answers to what’s on your mind.”

Radtke said the Community Conversations provide ThedaCare leaders an opportunity to connect directly with community members.

“It’s important to tell the story of how we are living our mission of improving the community’s health  – both by sharing what we are doing well, but also where we need to improve,” he said. “These conversations are also a chance to hear from our community about how they think we are doing. There is nothing more valuable than the voice of the customer when getting a feel for whether you are headed in the right direction.”

ThedaCare’s commitment to the community’s health extends beyond the doors of its facilities, Radtke said. For example, the health system is a supporter of Voices of Men domestic and sexual violence prevention; supports Backyard Buddies, which connects Theda Clark employees to nearby Roosevelt Elementary School students for weekly mentoring; sponsors the Rural Health Initiative, which brings healthcare services to the farm; and recently joined with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin-Fox Valley and Affinity Health System to create Catalpa, a new non-profit mental health clinic for area children.

In addition, ThedaCare contributed more than $39 million in unreimbursed programs and services to the community in 2011. These services include providing health care to people who cannot pay for it; ThedaCare On Call, a 24-hour hotline that answers health related questions; training for medical residents and nursing students; free community health programs; and support of the Fox Cities Community Health Center.

ThedaCare will hold additional community conversations in Oshkosh, Waupaca, New London and Shawano in the coming weeks.

Anyone wishing to receive a print copy of today’s report can contact Paula Morgen, community involvement manager for ThedaCare, at (920) 830-5848 or

ThedaCare™ is a community health system consisting of five hospitals: Appleton Medical Center, Theda Clark Medical Center, New London Family Medical Center, Shawano Medical Center, and Riverside Medical Center in Waupaca. ThedaCare also includes ThedaCare Physicians, ThedaCare Behavioral Health, and ThedaCare at Home. ThedaCare is the largest employer in Northeast Wisconsin with more than 6,175 employees. Those interested can follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.