POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Oct 10, 2010
It's no secret that the current system of health care is unsustainable. But we know if we work together, we can make change happen so everyone has access to high-quality, affordable care.
Unfortunately, I'm not sure if the Hawaii Medical Service Association feels the same way.
Our contract with HMSA expires Jan. 31, 2011. After months of honest and positive negotiations on a new contract, HMSA unexpectedly and unnecessarily publicly attacked us, misrepresented the situation and stepped between patients and their physicians.
From our perspective, the negotiations had been progressing well and as recently as Wednesday, we were still in discussions. Regardless of these recent developments, Hawaii Pacific Health remains committed to good-faith negotiation and will work hard to reach an agreement before our contract expires.
Many have heard about our Changing Health Care in Hawaii initiative, an effort on our part to change how we deliver health care and to encourage our patients to play an active role in better managing their health. HMSA has been vocal in its support of our Changing Healthcare in Hawaii initiative and agrees that future reimbursements must reward hospitals and doctors for the quality of care they provide. We're very close to finalizing a new set of standards so that our hospitals, physicians and HMSA all have the same priorities and focus. That's part of what these negotiations have been focused on.
We have the most ground to cover in determining fair payment for the care we provide our patients. This is critical because our ability to provide quality care depends on attracting and keeping top physicians in Hawaii and giving them the tools that deliver the best treatment.
At Hawaii Pacific Health, we have already taken significant steps in changing the way health care is delivered in Hawaii.
Our electronic medical record system, called Epic, is the foundation for HealthAdvantage, a clinical service quality program focused on prevention. It links patients, family members, physicians, medical technicians, nurses, labs, imaging centers and business offices. It also helps patients build relationships with their physicians.
This program alone has demonstrated that we can improve quality and reduce costs for people with chronic illness such as diabetes. In the past nine months alone, we've been able to improve key indicators of health by nearly 20 percent for diabetic patients in a pilot program.
In January 2009, we launched MyHealthAdvantage, which allows patients to access parts of their medical record, manage their medical care and communicate with their physicians online.
We're already seeing results. In the first year alone, the trend shows a 30 percent improvement in the number of diabetics with proper blood sugar levels. But a fair contract with HMSA is necessary to continue and expand this effort.
HMSA represents three out of every four people with private health insurance, so it plays a critical role in funding and supporting these programs.
Despite its recent actions, we are hopeful we can come to an agreement. We plan to continue working toward a solution at the negotiating table that benefits everyone, especially our patients.