Wyoming hospital embarks on bold initiative to cut costs

Despite being the least populous state by a wide margin, one of Wyoming's largest hospitals faces the same financial realities as acute care providers, prompting it to undertake bold initiatives in order to cut costs.

Cheyenne Regional Medical Center (CRMC) is embarking on a program to save $17 million over the next two years, OrthoSpine News reported. Its intent is to reduce costs hospital-wide by 6 percent overall. That includes cutting purchasing costs and labor via attrition. There are no plans to cut any jobs.

The hospital is accepting suggestions from all employees. A recent hire suggested it no longer use individual oximeters for patients, a change that will save about $240,000 a year.

The hospital is also trying to keep patients from leaving the state for care. Another hospital in the state, Wyoming Medical Center, has had to fend off competitors from Colorado, Utah and South Dakota in recent years.

CRMC has been under significant financial pressure--its inpatient revenue is down about 10 percent over the past year, including a change in the Medicare reimbursement process that will cost CRMC about $3 million.

The Cowboy State is one of 24 that has not expanded Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, meaning that it will not get an infusion of funds to cover uninsured patients, while its payments from the Disproportionate Share Hospital program will be reduced in the coming years.

Meanwhile, Cheyenne Regional's Institute of Population Health is using a $14.2 million grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to create "medical neighborhoods" that allow patients to videoconference with specialists hundreds of miles away from the isolated Cheyenne region, the Associated Press reported. The intent is to reduce readmissions and duplicative care. The goal of the program is to save $33 million over the next three years.

To learn more:
- read the OrthoSpine News article
- here's the Associated Press article