Great Plains Healthcare Alliance

Regional Healthcare Alliance – Case Study

Great Plains Healthcare Alliance

Background on the Organization:

GREAT PLAINS HEALTHCARE ALLIANCE – GPHA is an organization of leased, managed and affiliated hospitals in Kansas and Nebraska.  Formed in 1950, GPHA is one of the oldest –and one of the largest– not-for-profit management systems in the nation developed specifically to meet the special needs and challenges of the community health care system.  GPHA provides a full range of services including Emergency Room, Laboratory Services, Pharmacy, Radiology and other ancillary departments. The current organization consists of twenty-six small hospitals of which half are classified as Critical Access Hospitals.

Information Systems and Business office activities were being performed by a Hays Medical Center.  HMC recently made a strategic IT decision to transition its core HIS application support to the Meditech system.  HMC has discontinued supporting its Siemens-SMS MedSeries4 applications with the transition to Meditech.  HMC notified GPHA and its individual facilities that they will need to join with HMC in converting to Meditech, or find another alternative for their core application support.  A small number of facilities have elected to adopt the HMC strategy of Meditech.  The remaining GPHA facilities had approximately 1 year to develop an alternative strategy.

GPHA has formed a for-profit organization to operate the Siemens MedSeries4 Patient accounting and financial systems. They have installed an eSeries IBM AS400 (iSeries AS400, Model 810).

A for-profit data center company was formed (Midwest Health Systems) that is wholly owned by GPHA. Ken Abendshien was hired as the Director of IT plus two other financial analysts from Hays Medical Center.

In addition, GPHA has other individuals that are available for consulting/support services within the Alliance. They currently provide HIM (Medical Records) assistance, HIPAA Security, Networking, and Nursing Administration Services.

The organization has spent the last year working with over 60 small hospitals with the Great Plains region; they developed, trained, provided consulting services and installing the current requirements for HIPAA. This program has been a great success in the region.

Project Outline:

This is the outline of the three phased plans under consideration by GPHA. This initiative is being considered by all twenty-six (26) hospitals of the organization.

The applications that they want to install are as follows:

  1. Clinical Systems –
    1. Lab
    2. Order Entry
    3. Radiology
    4. Pharmacy
  2. Electronic Health Record
    1. C.O.L.D. Storage
    2. Document Management
    3. Transcription – centralized in Hays, KS
  3. “Network of Networks”
    1. Stepping into the breach with networks of connectivity, security, and integration built on six key technologies. The Network is designed to develop and link the entire local healthcare community together including providers, patients, and payors.
    2. As single data integration implementations reach across the enterprise and beyond, achieving maintainability, flexibility, scalability, and other architecture-dependent traits are enabled by consistent design — or hamstrung by its absence. Older attempts at data integration with point-to-point interfaces have given way to today’s preferred hub-and-spoke approach. However, stay tuned — data services will soon enable even more architectural alternatives. Data-integration architecture is worth pursuing because its benefits include cost-effective administration, reuse, flexible changes, and enterprise-scope visibility.
    3. Our data integration evolution is driven by the need for extreme scalability, real-time operation, virtual and federated approaches, and distributed architectures, which now include service orientation.

Cost Savings:

The cost savings created by the regional health alliance can be shown by the synergy generated with a centralized IT organization. Utilizing its considerable expertise, GPHA combined these into a single operations center that provides a suite of IT systems and services to their equity owner hospitals. By combining resources, all partners benefit from the latest IT advances supported by a team of IT professionals.

These individual facilities have determined that they need to join with other facilities to find improved alternatives for their core application support and that are cost effective.

  1. Hardware Cost Reduction – Currently operating a single AS400 in Hays, KS. The network is supported via T-1 and DSL communications lines
    1. Single CPU average cost for AS400 around $35,000 upfront cost, this could be a total savings of over $850,000
    2. Single IBM support agreement – estimate savings of over $75,000 per year
  1. Vendors’ Software Applications – currently operating a single set of software programs from each of the vendors with multi-data files for each individual hospital
    1. Siemens MedSeries4 – a software cost savings over twenty-six hospitals
    2. Siemens Software support – GPHA has a single support call center. All support calls are triaged at the GPHA Hays data center. Therefore, level one support calls are handle by the centralized staff members at Hays. Cost savings per hospital is over $5,000.00 per month. Thus, the organization has an estimated annual savings of $1.5 million.
  1. Staffing Savings – GPHA has a centralized consolidated staff. The staff for the entire system is consists of:
    1. Director of IS
    2. System Support Tech
    3. Network Specialist
    4. HIM’s (Medical Records)/HIPAA Security Officer
    5. Financial Analyst (2)
    6. In the future they will be adding two Clinical Analysts

Therefore the total staff for twenty–six hospitals is eight or 0.30 FTE per hospital. Thus, the average savings for the entire regional health alliance is about 0.70 FTE’s per hospital. The total staff savings is over $1 million per year.

The savings per hospital is an average of $132,000 per year or over ($10,000) ten-thousand per month.

This cost reduction is achieved by just having the organizations work together.