New hospital CEO's challenges are microcosm for entire sector

The new chief executive officer of CHI (Catholic Health Initiatives) Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee, has an eclectic background: Larry Schumacher started out in healthcare as an orderly, then became a nurse and eventually a chief nursing officer.

Male nurses are rare, but it's even rarer for nurses to wind up running more than rural or small community hospitals. That may be why Schumacher is taking an unconventional approach to plot CHI Memorial's future.

Schumacher has decided to helm the facility from the perspective of a patient, particularly one that has been experiencing continuously growing out-of-pocket costs, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press

"We in the healthcare side haven't had to play in the retail space very much," he told the newspaper, later adding "We're moving from volume to value, to different payment systems, and we're having to adjust to a lot of changes in how care is delivered."

At the same time, the hospital is challenged by a growing base of Medicare patients who need more care at lower levels of reimbursement, while commercial insurers are reluctant to pay for pricier care for surgery, even it is medically necessary. That means if the hospital performs the procedure, it must collect money from patients later on, according to Schumacher. It also means accommodating demand for new drugs driven in part from marketing by pharmaceutical companies.

Essentially, the challenges facing CHI Memorial are microcosm of what hospitals are confronted by nationwide: Juggling rising pharmaceutical costs, trying to satisfy financially pressured patients and collecting payments from them without alienating them, and dealing with volume-to-value initiatives that are slowly changing the way hospitals are delivering care.

To learn more:
- read the Chattanooga Times Free Press article