• WCA Study Asks How Healthy is the County's Healthcare Industry?

  • APRIL 10, 2013 | HEALTHCARE REFORM, NYS GOV'T, REGULATORY ISSUES, US GOV'T

  • WCA's New Healthcare Consortium Announces Preliminary Results of 'Healthcare Insights' Study, Measuring How Healthcare Delivery Trends Are Affecting The Region's Healthcare Stakeholders

  • The healthcare sector is a key economic engine for Westchester County and the surrounding region. It is the largest employer by far, and generates approximately $10 billion to the local economy. However, there have been fundamental shifts...


    Bill Harrington, chairman of the Westchester County Association, announces the formation of the WCA Healthcare Consortium on April 10 in White Plains.
    in healthcare delivery over the past 15 years, with more dramatic changes to come. To understand how the healthcare industry has evolved and to anticipate what’s likely to occur, the new WCA Healthcare Consortium, is undertaking a first-of-its-kind study into the price, supply, and demand structure of regional healthcare. The Consortium, comprised primarily of the CEOs of over fifty key healthcare and business stakeholders, released the study’s preliminary findings today at a press conference.

    The “Healthcare Insights” study shows that since 1997 in Westchester, in-patient hospital use has declined; homecare and nursing facility admissions are up; maternity and pediatric services are down, and Medicare has now surpassed commercial insurance as a primary payor. “We can clearly see that our aging population is affecting the healthcare market. This will have long-term implications for our healthcare providers,” Bill Harrington, WCA chairman, said.

    He also pointed out that: “No one has ever looked at the Westchester healthcare industry as a whole. We’re conducting a breakthrough study that encompasses the different modes of delivery, from in-patient hospital stays and doctor visits, to home healthcare and long-term care use. The study’s preliminary findings should come as no surprise to local healthcare leaders: Hospital utilization is changing, reimbursements are down and it’s clear that the delivery model is evolving. Now more than ever, Westchester healthcare providers, working with the business community, must come together to shape change or be a victim of it in the not too distant future.”

    Surprisingly, the study shows that area hospitals are not losing Westchester patients to Manhattan, a common misconception. In reality, fewer than 11% of all Westchester residents sought care in Manhattan.

    “Years ago patients may have needed to travel into Manhattan for more advanced care such as cancer treatment or specialized surgery,” said Jon Schandler, CEO, White Plains Hospital. “Today, we know that that is no longer the case.” Our Hospital and others in Westchester offer the same advanced technology, highly accomplished physicians and surgeons, and outstanding nursing care. Providing high-quality, patient centered care close to home is better for patients.”
    Schandler also commented, “Westchester hospitals provide a safety net so all members of our community can receive sophisticated medicine and advanced emergency care minutes away from where we live and work.”

    A Pressing Need for Data
    “Healthcare Insights” is an ongoing project of the recently launched WCA Healthcare Consortium, organized by the Westchester County Association, the region’s preeminent business membership organization. Included are providers, payors, employers, and academic experts. (For more details about the Consortium, see “Backgrounder.”) The study was initiated by the academic sub-committee of the Consortium, comprising leading healthcare experts from Fordham Westchester, Iona College, Mercy College, and Pace University. Paul Savage, Program Director of Health Care Management at Iona College’s Hagan School of Business, and a member of the Consortium’s academic sub-committee, compiled the data from the New York State Department of Health. “Our focus has been to quantify population health metrics and demographics across all provider types, so we can visualize the magnitude of ‘demand,’” Savage said.

    The preliminary overview measures hospital admissions, lengths of stay, service mix, emergency room use, and subsequent admissions, plus ambulatory surgery, outpatient visits, and the referral to long-term care and home healthcare services.

    Mega Trends
    Preliminary data from the study show that over the past 15 years in Westchester:
    • Fewer than 11% of Westchester residents travel to Manhattan for hospital care
    • In-patient hospital bed use dropped by 15%
    • In-patient discharges declined 6%
    • Average length of in-patient stay declined 13%
    • In-patient services for maternity and pediatric care declined, a result of an aging population
    • In-patient and ambulatory surgeries declined
    • In-patient medicine services increased 32%
    • Hospital discharge referrals to home care and skilled nursing facilities doubled
    • Medicare, as a primary payor of in-patient services, surpassed commercial insurance
    • In-patients with Medicare have increased 15%, attributable to an aging population
    • The number of hospital patients with Commercial Insurance has declined by 28%

    Healthcare Models Are Changing as Pressures on Industry Increase
    “There is no doubt the Westchester healthcare industry is being squeezed on many fronts,” noted Amy Allen, Managing Director of Advocacy for the WCA. “By bringing together key stakeholders through WCA’s Healthcare Consortium, we can create a road map to help identify the changes needed as a result of this study, with the goal of providing more cost-effective, quality healthcare for businesses and consumers in Westchester.”

    Savage explained the data indicates how healthcare delivery is changing, adding: “We are about to see more radical, significant change. The figures point to a future with further consolidation and integration of services that encompass the different “silos” of care – hospitals, physician groups, and long-term care – into more coordinated entities for service delivery.”

    Simeon Schwartz, CEO of WESTMED Medical Group commented: “Healthcare is evolving from a hospital-centric setting to an ambulatory care model. These changes provide opportunity for population management, improved coordination of care and cost control.”

    WCA President Bill Mooney concluded by saying that the Consortium will enable providers and consumers to plan for the future. “Our local healthcare community is under enormous pressures and is faced with unprecedented issues. Simultaneously, employers are faced with continuing escalating costs to provide healthcare for their employees. Now more than ever, providers and business must come together and shape the future,” he said. “We have an unprecedented opportunity to be proactive about the changes we are facing, rather than be a victim to them.”

    About the Westchester County Association
    The Westchester County Association (www.westchester.org) is the preeminent business membership organization in Westchester County. The Association is committed to business advocacy, economic vitality, and to providing a strong and clear voice for the interests of businesses on the regional, national, and international levels. Its key objectives are promoting positive economic development in the region; fostering business development; and providing its members with access and interaction with key public and private sector individuals, agencies, and organizations.

    About the WCA’s Healthcare Consortium
    Though its Healthcare Consortium -- an integrated group of stakeholders including hospitals, physicians, home care providers, insurers and employers -- the WCA is leading the healthcare discussion in Westchester County and is currently developing healthcare policy recommendations at the state and national levels. Its goal is to create the best model to deliver high quality, reasonable cost, healthcare to the residents of our region. 

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