Special to the Register
Gainesville Daily Register
Last fall on a beautiful Saturday in September, the key leaders of North Texas Medical Center gathered together for a historic meeting marking the beginning of a new direction for the hospital. The meeting was the first in a series of steps in a nine-month strategic planning process, which was recently completed. The result of the process were presented at the June, 2011 meeting of the board of directors.
The strategic planning process was completed under the direction of Mr. Greg Eastin from Forsite Consulting in Dallas. Mr. Eastin has overseen the strategic planning process for many urban and rural hospitals in Texas including Parkland Hospital in Dallas. Participants in the planning process included members of the hospital’s Board of Directors, medical staff and management team as well as hospital employees, volunteers and citizens of the Gainesville Community.
The initial meeting in September, 2011 included a presentation by Mr. Eastin on the key points and recent developments surrounding the new Health Care Reform Law, competitive market analysis, a review of the hospital’s mission statement, a review of the hospital’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats as well as a discussion on the hospital’s strategic objectives for the next three to five years.
The concluding meeting took place at the June 2011 meeting of the Board of Directors in which Mr. Eastin reviewed the demographics of Cooke County, a community interviews as well as a review of the need for both primary care (Family Practice, Pediatrics and OB-Gyn) and specialty care physicians and surgeons in Cooke County.
Mr. Randy Bacus, CEO of the Medical Center, followed Mr. Eastin’s presentation with a thorough review of 11 key initiatives which the board of directors, medical staff and management team agreed should be high priorities for the next three to five years for the Medical Center. These initiatives include:
• Emphasizing quality as an organization-wide priority - Hospitals will be reimbursed in the future by Medicare based on “Value, not Volume.” Those hospitals which provide the best care at the lowest cost will receive higher reimbursement than those who do not. Quality must be a high priority.
• Partnering with local physicians on key hospital initiatives - Mr. Bacus noted that it is in the hospital’s best interest to help local physicians that are already established in the community with their individual needs. As the new Health Care Reform Law is implemented over the next seven years operating an independent private practice will become very complicated. A new State Law allows rural hospital in counties of $50,00 or less to directly employ physicians. Some local physicians are considering employment by the hospital as an alternative to operating their private practice.
• Making employee education and staff development a high priority - Teamwork, customer service and patient satisfaction will be very high priorities for the hospital. Employees will be encouraged and incentiviezed to obtain additional advanced certifications in their respective professions.
• Recruiting new physicians and surgeons to the community - Mr. Bacus observed that the physician-to-population ratios in Cooke County indicate that there are no enough physicians in the county to meet the demands of the population. He observed that Mr. Eastin’s recommended an aggressive physician recruiting campaign to meet the demands of the population as well as assist those physicians who might want to retire in the next three to five years with transitioning their practices.
• Exploring the feasibility of adding new product lines - Mr. Bacus outlined sixteen healthcare products noted in Mr. Eastin’s community needs assessment that are not currently available in the Gainesville community. He said the management team would be exploring the feasibility of adding these services in order to benefit the community.
• Revitalizing the North Texas Medical Center Foundation - Mr. Bacus stressed that the NTMC Foundation is a huge asset to the hospital and has been very successful in the past in raising money and donating to the hospital for equipment and employee education. He emphasized that the Foundation has a new enthusiastic Executive Director and the Board of Directors of the Foundation is in the process of taking the Foundation in a new direction and will be focusing on two or three major signature events each year.
• Maintaining good relationships with larger healthcare systems - There is currently a trend towards consolidation in the healthcare industry and many smaller rural facilities are affiliating with larger urban healthcare systems. The consensus of opinion among the stakeholders of the hospital is that good relationships should be maintained with the larger systems but there currently would be no major advantage to the Medical Center in formally affiliating with a larger system.
• Striving to set a positive image in the community - Mr. Bacus noted that, “Not everyone in the community knows that products and services are available at NTMC- We have to do a better job at getting the word out on what services we have available here in Gainesville.” He observed that other public relations efforts will center on establishing and maintaining board-based endeavors which focus on physician, patients, employee and community satisfaction. He emphasized that the hospital will be working on building better relationships with police, fire, ambulance, city leadership, service clubs and employers.
• Developing the hospital’s 50 acre campus - Possible additions to the hospital’s campus over the next three to five years could include an assisted living center, a federally qualified health center, an additional rural health clinic, a senior center, a specialty care medical center, an extended hours clinic, a wellness center as well as several others.
• Assisting local leaders in attracting new industry - Mr. Bacus emphasized in his presentation that “As the community goes, so goes the hospital.” He said the strength of the hospital depends on the local economy and that it is essential that the hospital enthusiastically assist local civic leaders in attracting new industry to the community. He noted in his presentation that the City of Gainesville has fifteen key strengths that make the city of the most interesting places to live in Texas. He also observed that Texas is one of the top destinations in the country for job seekers and observed that all of the cities in Texas along I-35 are booming.
• Maintaining Medicare certification - Mr. Bacus noted the hospital would be maintaining Medicare Certification for now but this decision would be re-evaluated based on future court decisions affecting the Health Care Reform Act.
The strategic plan was unanimously approved by the Board of Directors after the presentations by Mr. Eastin and Mr. Bacus. The hospital’s management team has already made substantial progress towards implementing several of the eleven key initiatives.
For more information please contact Randy Bacus, CEO at (940) 665-1751.