‘Because They Care’

CHAUTAUQUA – Is it possible to provide the highest quality of health care at the lowest possible cost? Dr. Steven Corwin thinks so.

Corwin, CEO of New York-Presbyterian Hospital, provided Chautauqua Institution’s morning lecture Tuesday, speaking specifically on hospital administration and innovation on the provider side. He opened his lecture with a personal story of his grandfather, who died following a heart attack 45 years ago which, Corwin said, could have been prevented if it had happened in today’s world of medicine. His grandfather’s death, at the age of 62, is what inspired Corwin to go into cardiology.

“The progress that we’ve made in these last 45 years is really nothing short of remarkable,” Corwin said. “What I want you to keep in mind today as we discuss the problems with our health care system is: They are solvable. This is a great country with great minds. We can address these problems. And, we can continue the art of progress, so that we can reduce the burden of disease in our society.”

According to Corwin, 18 percent, or $2.7 trillion, of the nation’s gross domestic product is spent on health care, which is the fifth largest in the world. The number includes Medicare, Medicaid and commercial insurance, as well as other health care costs. Because the population is growing older, the amount of commercial insurance is decreasing, while Medicare and Medicaid costs are increasing, which is why, according to Corwin, the federal government sees the costs as “uncontrollable spending.”

To get to the root of the problem, Corwin said the government began looking at access to care, as well as the cost, quality and value.

“The federal government said, ‘Look, we’re not going to pay for poor quality,'” Corwin said. “‘Let’s make sure that there are core measures that every single hospital in this country, over 5,000 hospitals, have to submit to, otherwise we will penalize them.'”

Thus, the federal government put the Affordable Care Act into effect, which as been and will continue to be implemented gradually for the next several years, in order to help with unsustainable growth.

“It is health care reform 1.0,” Corwin said. “We are going to go through a decades-long discussion about health care reform, its pros, its cons, how to build and create a better health care system. This is the end of the beginning, if you will. I believe that the president and the congress did this because they care.”

Corwin said the United States is a leader in health care innovation, and as the health care system moves forward, research and advancement needs to be recognized.

“You need research. You need the cutting edge,” Corwin said. “We have to temper that with cost. But, to throw the baby out with the bathwater is a big mistake.”

Speaking about his own hospital, which has six campuses, Corwin said it had the goal of cutting costs by $150 million over the next three years, without cutting jobs or sacrificing care. By looking at the revenue cycle, length of patient stay, system access, supply utilization, corporate and support costs and clinical resource optimization, he said the hospital is well on its way.

Additionally, Corwin discussed how care will change, due to team-based care, evidence-based practices and reduced variation, which, ultimately, he said will reduce costs.

Corwin was one of a total of 25 lectures during Week Nine geared toward “Health Care: Reform and Innovation.” Day tickets are available for purchase at the Main Gate Welcome Center Ticket Office on the day of your visit. Morning tickets grant visitors access to the grounds from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. for $20. Afternoon tickets grant access from noon-8 p.m. for $13. Combined morning/afternoon passes are $33.

For more information and to see a complete calendar of Chautauqua’s 2013 Health Care Forum, visit chqhealthcare.com.