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Watch highlights from an interview with leaders from Boulder Community Health, Advisory Board and Optum. They discuss supporting growth while sustainably funding the health system’s mission and navigating workforce challenges with flexible partnership models.
Matthew Stevens, Executive Partner & Managing Director, Advisory Board
- How does the relationship with Optum, the partnership help keep care local, for Boulder?
Rob Vissars, MD, President & CEO, Boulder Community Health
- I think there was no greater example than this past year. And we began having a conversation about this, I guess, about half year prior to the pandemic hitting, you know, really. And then all of a sudden everybody's world was turned upside down. Last, you know, February, March in particular. In fact, I was at, I was meeting with Optum partners at the time when, I think we all remember it hitting. Sort of March 12th or March 13. I was like, "I gotta get home", everybody scattered. And at that time we had to decide, do we move forward with this partnership? I mean we have a pandemic to deal with. We have a community to care for. And we felt like, if anything, this is an emphasis that we have to do this, we have to do it now. So we managed to work through the deal last summer, and then we're coming up on our one year anniversary. But doing that at the same time, having said that, putting things in place and having the support of whether it be the actuarials or the prognosticators or Advisory Board, our ability to navigate this past year was greatly enhanced just through this partnership. And it wasn't something that was part of the contractual obligation, but it was more of an example of, the trust we built early on, the commitment that we're both gonna see each other succeed. And our alignment and our cultures.
- Paul, let me ask you sort about this integration and the alignment of vision, your thoughts and reflections here.
Paul Emerson, CEO, Provider Segment, Optum
- Yeah. You know, I think, you know, just listening to Rob's points and comments, you know, I think we pride ourselves in really making sure that we start with culture and mission and direction. Making sure that, you know, we are aligned around the challenges facing the direction we wanna go. You know, we started off this conversation, you know, financial stability, remaining independent, local care, you know, how we then bring the solutions to achieve those objectives will vary. And it is a partnership. It is not a here's our solution to help solve this challenge for margin lift, it's how do we work together to get to the right outcome?
- We looked at this and we put it out to our organization and our physicians and everyone else. They say, "Well, this is great, but how are we gonna do this?" We, we, you know, we've done big things before, we've transitioned to Epic and--
- Sure that creates some smiles. It's a lot of work no matter what your size is. And just moving into this partnership was, it was a singular focus for us. But being able to say, well, you have, we have bench strength now. We have the resources. We have the financial growth that is allowing us to invest in. And we have our partners willing to invest in the tools that we need to succeed in this space. It was a whole different conversation. And instead of, how am I going to do this in addition? There were people lining up to say, I want my service line to be first, or when do I get to be the priority in this plan? So creating, the other thing I haven't mentioned is creating that capacity and the assurance that you have the data and the analytics and the answers and the support, the project management, et cetera.
- Was huge for the organization and really built confidence.
- You know, one of the key elements of the partnership then is taking the strategic plan, taking the objectives. We have, you know, a governance process where we together decide what are the projects we're gonna work on, prioritize them. So there's a complete alignment on what we're gonna work on. And then the project management part. How we manage across both organizations to address those transformation, those change initiatives.
- Well, gentlemen, as our time today draws to a close, let me raise one sort of final question for you comments and that's growth, right? A word that's not a minimal of a single definition, but Rob, I wanna get your take on where you see growth going for BCH and how this partnership helps fuel that.
- Well, one of the underlying requisites for us to achieve our goals, remain independent, have sustained financial stability. Is we're gonna have to grow like every organization, every healthcare system. But historically when we set out and looked at the year ahead, we would sit down and, you know, roll the dice. Maybe hopefully apply some principles and a lot of hope. And, we'd come up with something like, well, you know, ambulatory, we will grow 2% and inpatient side will grow 1% or one and a half if when we balance things out. What we lacked was the precision and the ability to well grow in a smart way. And while we recognized the need to do that, we just didn't have the capabilities. Now with our partner, we not only have the data and the analytics, we have the resources of their marketing team. I listened to a presentation the end of last week, and it was around precision marketing and they had taken some of our data and they came back with answers to questions we didn't even know we had. You know, how many individuals within our secondary service area are not even aware that they could benefit from, for example, our Structural Heart Program? And so it's also around making sure that we reach the right people and grow in the right way. And of course, make sure we grow profitably. And we still have to sustain our mission. We still have to have the resources to make sure that we have equitable access to everybody within our community. Which means outside our community, we may have to be more strategic. And that the tools and the capabilities that Optum brings to bear significantly exceeds anything. Not only that I think we had, but when I look at my local market, I think we actually have a competitive edge over systems much larger than us. So I'm really excited about how we grow in the next several years.
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