ICYMI: Colorado Business and Health Care Leaders Call for Solutions that ‘Build on What’s Working’

Dec 17, 2020

COLORADO – A diverse group of Colorado health care professionals and business leaders convened during a virtual policy roundtable hosted by Colorado Business Roundtable to take deep look at our health care system through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The conversation highlighted the challenges and opportunities for the future of health care response and innovation. From new ways of collaborating to leveraging technology and rapid advancements of treatments, our current health care system and partners in the private sector can work to provide access to care and coverage for Coloradans.

Dr. Phil Stahel, MD, FACS Chief Medical Officer (CMO), The Medical Center of Aurora & Spalding Rehabilitation Hospital highlighted the creation of a partner system that “every single, rural, independent standalone hospital in the state of Colorado, has a go-to or a buddy system, to be able to transfer patients to, and we’ve done that to make sure that all patients in Colorado, even if they’re not near one of the health systems, they have access to get into that.

Dr. Stahel emphasized that collaboration within Colorado’s healthcare system has been the “secret of success.” He added, “We’re also then sharing all that same information out to the rural hospitals. So they know how to best care for patients and best care for COVID patients so that we can support them. So it really has been an incredible testament to collaboration and coming together really with one single focus. And that is how do we help to save lives in the state of Colorado.

By working together, doctors, nurses, clinicians, hospitals, health insurance providers, biopharmaceutical companies, and private employers have counted on our current health care system to meet the needs of all Coloradans as we look to overcome the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Dr. J.P. Valin, MD, Executive Vice President, Chief Clinical Officer, SCL Health outlined the many ways Colorado’s healthcare system aligned on best guidance to limit transmission, surge plans, allocation of personal protective equipment (PPE), capabilities for COVID-10 testing, staffing needs, as well as other resources and data. He shared, “The power of collaboration and coming together to solve a wickedly hard problem that was fast moving, highly complex and impacted every part of the healthcare system – the only way we can solve that wickedly hard problem was to come together and collaborate.

Coming together as a unified health care collaborative enabled Colorado’s healthcare system to see broadly across the state, to identify trends, and to react more quickly. Mr. Valin continued, “Back when this all started in March, we quickly realized that COVID was going to be bigger than one physician, one hospital, one health system. And this was really impacting everybody across the state. The CEO’s of the health systems came together quickly, huddled up quickly on a weekend, on a call, and said, you know, we need to figure out how we’re going to partner and do this.

After facing such a daunting public health crisis this past year, lawmakers should listen to health care and business leaders on the front lines to build on what is working in our health care system – not undermine it.

Our healthcare system has taken a tremendous hit.” stated Dr. Janel Allen-Davis, President & CEO, Craig Hospital. “We are not done with the impacts and the implications of COVID.

Colorado lawmakers have indicated that they will soon consider legislation to establish a new state government option when the General Assembly convenes in January for the 2021 session. Colorado business and health care leaders are calling for solutions that build on what’s working and fix what is still broken in health care.

Dr. Allen-Davis added, “This is the time to go slow. Let us get some stability. We’ve got to stabilize the health care system, which, my belief is, at least another year of just working through the complexities and the vagaries that have happened to the system as a result of COVID.

Josh Neff, Vice President of Integration, Centura Health & Interim CEO, Goodland Regional Medical Center and Rawlins County Health Center echoed similar sentiments and shared “now’s not the time to make a massive pivot and change that will strain our workers and our systems as we finish out and end the pandemic.

It’s clear these health care leaders fear a state government option would take the Colorado down a path to one-size-fits-all coverage with the unintended consequences of cuts in access to affordable, quality health coverage and care for all Coloradans.

Mr. Neff concludes, “There’s some interesting work that’s already going on, which is how you really love it to be, that the feds or the state, that is, that public policy doesn’t have to solve it, that we solve it on our own. Where some systems are getting into a more collaborative relationships with insurers, where we’re holding each other’s feet to the fire around quality and value. And I think that that’s work that we need to continue to do.