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Pennsylvania Hospital System Is a Health Care Model

Geisinger’s data-driven efforts improve care and lower costs

Geisinger Health System, a hospital system in Pennsylvania’s coal country, has become a national poster child for data-driven health care. Experts believe the model could one day correct the country’s problematic approach to medical care and provide better care with lower costs.

The system focuses on the avoidance of unnecessary procedures and also serves as an insurer that covers many of its patients. These areas of focus have been touted by many U.S. health care experts and are likely among the reasons why President Barack Obama cited Geisinger repeatedly when pushing for passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Geisinger’s chief executive, David Feinberg, MD, gave up his lucrative position running UCLA’s hospital system to lead the central Pennsylvania health system. Feinberg explained his plans for Gesinger in a conversation with the Wall Street Journal

When asked if Geisinger’s success is scalable and generalizable, Feinberg responded by stating, “If you’re running a system in West Virginia, or in Massachusetts or Maine, or Seattle, can you do what we’ve done around population health? I think the answer is a resounding yes. Every time we’ve gone into one of those communities that are all different than central Pennsylvania, we’ve been able to show dramatic reduction in ER [emergency room] visits and dramatic reduction in readmission rates. The stuff that’s been proven in Geisinger is exportable. That’s totally clear now.”

Feinberg even stated that his job ultimately is to “close every one of our hospitals” because work should be done to keep people healthy. To get doctors on board, Feinberg suggested showing them strong data, including differences in cost per doctor in the system and differences in length of stays for the same procedure.

The system already has begun to extend its reach. In 2013, Oak Investment Partners backed the system’s for-profit consulting and technology arm, xG Health Solutions Inc. And last year, Geisinger announced a plan to merge with AtlantiCare, the dominant health system in southern New Jersey, in a transaction to close in early October.

Source: Wall Street Journal; September 2015

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