It's been a week since the Privately Owned Health Care Organization Task Force's initial meeting, and it's about time I put my thoughts on the persuasive tactics used there into words.
But I'm hesitant.
The problem I see is people outside and inside IHC could construe my take to be the company's take. So, for what it's worth, here's my disclaimer:
The following is my opinion and mine only. In no way does it reflect the views of my employer, Intermountain Health Care, or any of its officers.
There. I hope that's enough. Here goes:
Persuasive tactic number one: Me too. IHC claims to have become an integrated health system because it's better for their patients. They can influence outcomes in every aspect of care, from detection and prevention to the actual delivery of care as well as any after-care follow-up.
Two of IHC's competitors--MountainStar, a six-hospital system owned by HCA, and Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield, a multi-state health insurer--both stated that while quality of care at IHC's facilities is excellent, organizations that are not integrated can also promote excellent quality.
Jack Towsley, a VP at MountainStar, said there are no widely-accepted quality standards in health care. Some of the quality recognition lists his hospitals are in (his HCA DBA has six in Utah) don't include IHC hospitals at all. Towsley said he would pit the quality of his hospitals against IHC's hospitals any day.
Regence's Jennifer Cannaday also stated that cost and quality are not only the hallmarks of an integrated system.
My take? Not every organization could use this "me-too" strategy. Regence has operations in the northwest and are essentially tied with IHC as the largest health insurer in Utah. MountainStar is an HCA company, the largest hospital chain in America. If the claims they made were made by some county-owned, rural hospital, or by one of the smaller insurance plans, it wouldn't hold much weight. But "me-too" can work for these in these cases, because, as Mr. Towsley intimated, data can't tell the whole story. There are, so the cliche goes, lies, damn lies and statistics. Without some sort of standard set up by the Task Force, all the stakeholders in its deliberations may just be entitled to their own set of facts.