As business leaders with longstanding ties to the former Saint Joseph Health System as well as Jewish Hospital & St. Mary's HealthCare, we've been on the front lines of addressing the changing needs in health care — in the commonwealth and around the country. There has never been a greater need to chart a new course.
The Affordable Care Act, medical consolidations and an increased focus on preventive care have created a new environment for patients and health care providers.
A few weeks ago, Ruth Brinkley, CEO of KentuckyOne Health, shared that the changes in the industry are radical and permanent. Then she delivered a bold charge: "We must and we will deliver high quality services more efficiently and differently." We know that residents, businesses and employees continue to examine what that might mean for them.
As board members of KentuckyOne, we are proud to be part of a Kentucky organization that is leading in the race to adapt. Today's health-care environment is a quantum leap from when the former Saint Joseph, Jewish and St. Mary's first came together in 2012. The landscape has changed even from a year ago when we entered a partnership with the University of Louisville.
Leadership and innovation are deeply ingrained in the DNA of the organizations that we brought together as KentuckyOne Health. Collectively we have pioneered many exciting firsts over the decades, especially in heart, transplant and stroke care: Kentucky's first adult open-heart surgery in 1965, Kentucky's first double lung transplant in 1985, the world's first successful human hand transplant in 1999, the world's first totally implantable AbioCor heart in 2001 and the world's first phase-one FDA-approved clinical trial using "c-kit positive" adult cardiac stem cells to treat heart disease in 2009.
However, we cannot rest on our past achievements. We must strive to achieve more health-care firsts that will benefit all Kentuckians and extend well beyond our borders to help others. Our partnership with the University of Louisville and the access to research enables us to build on past achievements and paves the way to future medical breakthroughs.
Our organization needs to change to meet patient needs, while we address financial sustainability. We are confident that as we continue to become KentuckyOne and reinvent our business, we will not just reduce costs, but also provide health-care services that are more in line with the needs of Kentucky residents.
The new KentuckyOne will reflect the shift from inpatient care to outpatient care, the manner in which patients receive care and how hospitals are reimbursed for care and services. We work more closely with patients and their loved ones to help them make better decisions about how they care for themselves, how they can stay healthy and how they can make better use of health care services.
We know that changes we make to our operations can have an emotional impact for our patients. As a health-care organization, we are more than just a business. We are a part of the Kentucky community and a vital influencer in ensuring that residents of the commonwealth lead healthy and fulfilling lives. We will not lose sight of what brought together three trusted organizations with exemplary legacies of compassionate care in the first place. We know we are stronger together and better positioned to provide the next generation of health care.
We have a long challenge ahead, but our change has begun. Many residents have already taken advantage of our new initiatives, including:
■ Anywhere Care and virtual medicine. Launched in November, Kentuckians now have a 24/7 — from home, from work, from anywhere — option for low-cost urgent care with board-certified family practice providers either by phone or video chat.
■ Primary care network expansion. KentuckyOne has expanded its network of physicians across the commonwealth, which means easier access for our patients.
■ KentuckyOne Health Partners. A physician-led organization, Clinical Integration Network, aligns various providers and payers around common goals of higher quality and safety measures, improved patient experience, reduced cost of care and value-based purchasing with an opportunity for shared savings.
Change is difficult and it takes time for people to adapt. As we become the world-class health-care organization Kentucky needs and deserves, our dedication and commitment to quality, safety and service to all of our patients — regardless of ability to pay — remains solid and unchanged.
We embrace the challenges before us because it is what's right for KentuckyOne and, more importantly, what's right for Kentucky.
Robert M. Hewett is chair and Richard Schultz is vice-chair of the KentuckyOne Health Board of Directors.