For some, it’s difficult to think of hospitals as businesses, but they certainly have to be run that way—and they’re the most complex businesses in the United States. As vice president and CFO of The Christ Hospital Health Network, Chris Bergman has a complex web to oversee: the providers who offer care are sometimes employed by The Christ Hospital and sometimes not, and the consumer is considered the patient, but it can also be the patient’s family. There’s also the tricky question of who pays for the services provided. Sometimes it’s an insurance company, sometimes it’s an employer, and sometimes it’s the government. Add to that complicated regulations, and you have a very interesting business environment, to say the least. Here, in metrics, we examine how The Christ Hospital is making a meaningful difference throughout Greater Cincinnati.
125 years of service, 1 goal
The industrialist James Gamble would eventually cofound Procter & Gamble Company in 1837, but first he assisted his wife, Elizabeth Ann, in making The Christ Hospital a reality 125 years ago. The initial goal—one that continues today—was to help underserved people.
“It has always been about providing access and taking care of those who need it; it was about compassion,” Bergman says. “That said, I don’t want to downplay how important the research and education component has become. We’re a leader in cardiovascular care. Just to give you the idea of the scope of it, as the region’s leader in heart and vascular care, The Christ Hospital has conducted over 1,200 clinical trials and introduced most of the new techniques in cardiovascular medicine over the past 25 years.”
Among the 6%
When Bergman first moved to Cincinnati, where The Christ Hospital is based, he would often find himself out with his kids, running errands. When talking to his new community members, the question of what he did for a living would inevitably come up. When Bergman shared he was with The Christ Hospital, time and time again he was met with overwhelming positivity. “That’s the best hospital,” neighbors would say, or, “My father receives excellent treatment for his heart there.”
It makes sense when you consider that The Christ Hospital is among only 6 percent of hospitals in the country awarded Magnet recognition for demonstrating the highest-quality patient care, nursing excellence, and innovation in nursing. Bergman says this can truly be attributed to the hospital’s commitment to care, and sometimes it’s about small gestures.
“It might sound like a minor thing, but it’s been pointed out to me several times by our patients that our employees will always walk them where they need to go, rather than just pointing in the direction,” he says. “This isn’t something we’ve trained employees to do; it’s simply what they do. Again, it sounds small, but it says so much about the people who work here. They are so caring. We have an extraordinary staff.”
A Top-50 Hospital
For the past sixteen years, The Christ Hospital has been recognized as one of the top fifty hospitals in America by U.S. News & World Report. For nineteen years, it’s also been named “consumer choice” for healthcare in Cincinnati by the National Research Corporation.
Given the hospital’s 125-year history, it’s hard for Bergman to pinpoint exactly when the hospital began to develop a reputation for excellence, but its reputation holds a lot of weight in the community, and it’s something that means a great deal to Bergman and that elicits a great deal of pride among the staff.
“We’re not The Christ Hospital; we’re The Christ Hospital,” says Bergman with a laugh. “We’ve spent a great deal of time trying to get things right, and we’re always trying to elevate the patient experience. We have a strong Patient and Family Advisory Council that we work with closely, and with the feedback we receive, we’ll evolve our patient-care model to be best in class.”
Located throughout Greater Cincinnati, The Christ Hospital Health Network’s biggest challenge, Bergman says, is making sure there is continuity and consistency at each clinic location. From a financial perspective, he has to ensure the infrastructure of each location is managed efficiently.
“For our patients, efficiency is really important, and so is convenience,” he says. “We have 181 locations because providing access to our patients and their families in their own neighborhoods is incredibly important to us.”
From 1993 to 2008, The Christ Hospital was part of a health system that was formed by the hospital. Bergman says the hospital’s biggest concern was quality, and it was hard to maintain quality in a big, complex system. Since leaving the system in 2008, its revenue has grown by 10 percent each year. The CFO asserts The Christ Hospital is still complex, but the services most central to its patients can now be found at its main hospital.
“I have a great foundation for managing all of these complexities,” Bergman says. “I have the support of my wife, I have my faith, and both of those things help me deal with the rigors of the job. As I get older, I understand that life isn’t just about work, but I sincerely enjoy my work, and I want to do the best job possible.”