Gary Passama

Gary Passama retired as president and CEO of NorthBay Healthcare on March 31, 2017. An active blogger since 2010, here’s a collection of his work.

The Clowns are Wrong Again

March 14, 2017

Planning to write about the progress of repealing, replacing or repairing Obamacare, I found there is so much turbulence in Washington that I cannot keep up. Better to wait until more time has passed and the smoke starts to clear a little.

Instead, let’s address the latest obituary issued for hospitals. An email arrived from a firm that calls itself the “most experienced hospital ratings experts,” which is interesting since I have never heard of them. Their message was ominously titled, “The Vanishing Hospital: ASCs Follow the Consumers.” ASC is short hand for “ambulatory surgery centers.”

The contention is that the future of hospitals is dismal because of all the disrupters coming into health care. But why they cited ambulatory surgery centers as disrupters is curious. These particular kinds of disrupters have been around for 35 years. Even more curious, the expert they cited was the former CEO of Walmart, who was fired from that position. Everyone apparently feels he can be an expert on health care.

What this company of “ratings experts” fails to realize – like many other clowns masquerading as health pundits – is that hospitals have proven to be amazingly resilient and able to adapt to change. The real trend in health care is not disruption leading to fragmentation of care, but quite the opposite.

Let NorthBay Healthcare serve as an example.

We have a free-standing ambulatory surgery center on our Vacaville hospital campus which is cost effective and price competitive. We lately have been performing more than 30 procedures a day. We work closely with our affiliated medical group to ensure care provided there is equal to the care provided to the much sicker patients in our two hospitals. That is done as part of an organized system of care.

We are a small, but competitive, integrated health care system with our hospitals, medical group, outpatient centers and health plan working together. In our county, we compete against two of the largest health care systems in the nation, each of which has also adapted to changing modes of care delivery.

Our membership in the Mayo Clinic Care Network provides our specialty physicians with access to the resources of the world-class leader, which is another distinctive part of our care.

What works against the so-called disrupters is that public policy calls for the care of patients to be managed across a continuum. The organizations best able to do that are integrated health care systems built around hospitals. Free-standing health care “anythings,” which are not linked to a system of care managed by physicians is not disruption, it is wasteful.

The clowns are wrong. Again.



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