Charlotte’s 2 Biggest Healthcare CEOs: There’s Room to Collaborate

July 8, 2016 Heather Bates

This article originally appeared at http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/business/article78888642.html on April 15, 2016.

Leaders at the Charlotte region’s two largest health care systems agreed Friday there’s room to set aside competition and pool resources to tackle mental and behavioral health issues in the community.

Speaking at the Charlotte Chamber’s 2016 Healthcare Summit at Westin Charlotte, Novant Health president and CEO Carl Armato said there are many days at his facilities when half the emergency room visitors are there for behavioral health issues.

“I’m going to challenge us,” Armato said to Gene Woods, president and CEO at Carolinas HealthCare System. “How can we as competitors come together … I think there are hundreds of millions of dollars that could be saved, and then redirected to the unmet health care needs of our communities, like behavioral health, like drug abuse, and all the things that are out there … It’s that kind of thought that’s going to change the game.”

Woods, who took CHS’s top post 10 days ago, agreed there’s room to collaborate: “I think North Carolina is No. 34 in terms of health statistics in the country. We should be better. We’re better than that. So how can we coalesce and work together” to raise standards.

Susan DeVore, president and CEO of Charlotte-based Premier Inc., a health solutions company, moderated the discussion on trends and issues reshaping health care.

Topics that DeVore, Woods and Armato covered in the discussion included:

▪ The Presidential election: Woods said look for Capitol Hill and House Speaker Paul Ryan taking the lead on health care if the GOP wins, while the White House will set the tone if Democrat Hillary Clinton wins, given her background in health care reform.

▪ Professional fatigue: Upgrades on regulations and technology are putting more demands on physicians and nurses and is “adding to the burnout,” Woods said.

▪ Cybersecurity: Armato said Novant is paying attention to hospitals elsewhere being targeted for ransomware attacks – where hackers encrypt files on computers and networks and then offer to unlock them for money.

▪ Consumers: Armato said the focus on patients is driving a range of changes, from extended clinic hours to video visits to having one “bundled” bill for procedures like hip and knee replacements.

Woods said industry challenges – such as reaching socioeconomic communities blocked from getting needed health care – will continue to drive changes and new trends. “If you don’t like change, you should choose another industry,” Woods said.

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