David Sandman, President and CEO of the New York State Health Foundation on Strengthening and Adapting New York’s Hospitals
When I served as executive director of the Berger Commission, many of New York State’s hospitals were in shaky condition. The Commission was charged with evaluating and reforming the State’s health care delivery and financing systems, and we made sweeping recommendations affecting one-quarter of the State’s hospitals, including many restructurings and even a few closures, recognizing the need to shift away from bricks and mortar based inpatient services and toward primary care to better meet communities’ needs.
More than a decade later, New York State’s hospitals still face many of the same issues we grappled with back then: How can hospitals best serve their communities and patients? What should we do about hospitals that seem to have permanent financial struggles? How do we measure, improve, and sustain high-quality care? How can our health care system meet the growing need for primary care and address the non-clinical factors that affect health?
Just last week, I participated in two public discussions of hospitals in New York State. The first was a conversation with Dr. Mitchell Katz, the new president and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals (H+H), the nation’s largest public health care system. The second was a discussion hosted by the Empire Center, sparked by a new report on hospital ownership laws and whether for-profit hospitals should be permitted in New York State. And while H+H faces unique challenges as a large public hospital system, some common themes emerged across the conversations:
1. Patients should be at the center of care. But that doesn’t always happen. I’ve written previously about my personal experience with a hospital that treated one of my family members more as an inconvenience than as its most important customer. But sometimes it’s simply that systems aren’t designed to meet patients’ needs and preferences...