Health Care vs. Rescue Care


First, I’d like to thank all of you who have written to me, commented directly on this blog, or stopped me in the hallway to offer your perspectives and innovative ideas. We are listening to all of you, and if you haven’t heard back from anyone yet, don’t worry…you will. And take a look at the Center for Innovation and Transformational Change website on OurNet, where you can submit your ideas or find out how you can start an Idea System in your department.

Tomorrow is an important day for UMass Memorial Health Care.  We are taking some time to meet with managers from throughout the system at a morning retreat to present our five strategic priorities for the next few years. You’ll be hearing about these priorities in this blog and from your managers. Our strategy will guide all of our work moving forward and allow us to be successful during this very challenging time in health care.

This isn’t the first time you’ve heard that health care is going through an incredibly challenging time, but I also think it’s an incredibly exciting time — a time of great opportunity and of great hope. Hope that, finally, we will focus more on “health care” and less on “rescue care.”

The United States has the best rescue care system in the world. Our outcomes from things like severe trauma and heart attack are unrivaled. But we don’t have the best health care system in the world. For example, our rates of obesity and diabetes are much higher than in other industrialized nations and the overall health of our nation is mediocre, at best.

Too often I find myself treating patients in the emergency department for something that could’ve been prevented if we had a more coordinated health care system. Still, I have great hope that this will change over the next five to 10 years.  With the arrival of the accountable care organization (ACO) and its new payment system, we will have the chance to focus more on health care, especially with our sickest patients, and less on rescue care.  One of our strategic priorities is to expand our ACO capabilities over the next several years. My hope is that we can partner with UMass Medical School to create an ACO laboratory that could lead the rest of the nation in this area.

As central New England’s largest provider of critical care services, we must always be here to meet the rescue care needs of the communities we serve. Now, we will also have the opportunity to expand our services and create a new business line focused on keeping people home, healthy, and better managing their chronic conditions. For me, this is very exciting.

I always enjoy hearing different views on health care delivery, and this post from a famous physician blogger, Kevin MD, recently caught my attention. Natasha Deonarain, MD, presents a great case in “The difference between health care and disease management.

I’ll close today by mentioning some recent achievements at our hospitals. Last week I attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new UMass Memorial Cancer Center at Marlborough Hospital. What this center offers gets right to the heart of what we’ve been saying about providing high quality care to patients close to home.

low res Champions logo 2013

Also, at last night’s Champions of Excellence Awards program, the highest honor – the Board of Trustee Award – was presented to two of our system’s hospitals, Clinton Hospital and HealthAlliance Hospital. Employees were recognized for their focus on patient-centered care, and quality and safety with extraordinary results.

Clinton’s Hospital’s HCAHPS scores for patient satisfaction are the best in New England. And for key patient safety measures, HealthAlliance Hospital is ranked by Consumer Reports as the best among hospitals in Massachusetts – not once, but two years in a row. Our Board of Trustees Award recognizes these achievements because these employees have worked together toward a common purpose that makes a real difference. They should be very proud of themselves – I certainly am.

Thanks for taking great care of our patients and one another,


1 thought on “Health Care vs. Rescue Care

  1. Good Morning Dr. Dickson. I love your idea of an idea board. I hope it takes off. This “Everyday Innovators” is also a great way to keep in contact with the employees. So, as far as ideas, I have been wondering if the Medical Center has begun to initiate a plan to upgrade Windows XP and Microsoft Office 2003 in all the hospital’s computers. See link regarding Microsoft’s decision to discontinue support for these products in early April of 2014.
    Thank you for the opportunity to share this question.

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