How to Maximize Every Dollar of Healthcare Spending

Terrebonne General Medical Center chief operating officer Diane Yeates says keeping a visible community presence is the key to its success and remaining a strong asset

In the ever-evolving healthcare industry, Diane Yeates says the primary challenge she’s encountered as chief operating officer of Terrebonne General Medical Center (TGMC) in Houma, Louisiana, is funding—”having to make more investments while revenues continue to get reduced.”

To successfully meet this challenge, Yeates acknowledges whom she and TGMC are ultimately serving as an organization: patients. An important organizational goal is to keep patients close to home and make decisions that provide the best outcomes for the most people in the community.

“Sometimes that decision entails initiatives related to our physicians or employees,” Yeates explains. “Sometimes that’s about an expansion, renovation, or equipment for our facility. Sometimes that’s going to be a decision that might involve partnering with various other organizations that have like philosophies.”

Making all of these decisions has yielded successful outcomes. For instance, most recently, TGMC completed the implementation of a new EHR system through Epic, a yearlong project in conjunction with Ochsner Health System. This new system is expected to yield valuable data in measuring patient outcomes and allow patients to be seen seamlessly across the various hospitals in the Ochsner Health Network. “Ochsner Health System has brought various avenues of value to TGMC through a recent affiliation,” Yeates says.

Diane Yeates’s Tips for Success

1. Don’t overreact.

2. Be open-minded, and always stay several steps ahead of current strategy.

3. Recognize it’s difficult for a community hospital to stand alone; some partnerships or affiliations are necessary and valuable.

4. Create relationships across all providers to give the best care for the community.

5. Be comfortable moving strategy into operations.

6. Stay educated and involved with your peers.

7. Surround yourself with excellent people.

8. Embrace change.

9. Be bold.

10. Most importantly, keep the patients at the center all the time.

Another positive addition to the community is the Mary Bird Perkins TGMC Cancer Center, which opened in 2011 and brought more cancer services to the area. Yeates says having had significant involvement in the planning, development, and opening of the cancer center was a meaningful professional accomplishment.

To ensure that TGMC remains a strong community asset, Yeates must remain abreast of the changes within the healthcare industry that she’s observed during her twenty-seven-year tenure with TGMC.

These changes have been related to: the move from cost- or case-rate reimbursement paid on volume to current value-based paid on quality; the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act; HIPAA; the Affordable Care Act; movement of more inpatient services to outpatient; increased use of physician extenders; expansion of devices; clinical trials; and the move away from a charity care system in Louisiana—just to name a few factors. The impact of just one of these changes can cost a hospital a significant amount of money in decreased reimbursement rates or increased operational costs to comply with regulations, Yeates says.

In addition, it results in an increase in patients’ interaction in decisions regarding their healthcare. “Patients are much more participatory,” Yeates says. “There’s more information that’s available to them; therefore, they know more about their options than they did in the past.” One of the benefits of Epic is that patients have access to MyChart, a patient-specific portal where individual medical information is updated as results are complete.

Preventive care and wellness also have become a priority for patients in recent years, and in 2013, TGMC significantly increased its visibility in the wellness arena, Yeates says. Examples are providing health screenings to employers in the region, sponsoring athletic trainers for all the high schools in the community, and partnering with a local grocery chain to promote healthy lifestyles through cooking demonstrations or opportunities to shop with a nutritionist.

“We’ve really taken healthcare outside of the four walls and are bringing it into the community,” Yeates says. “TGMC is sixty-three years old, and it’s our responsibility to make sure that we are around for another sixty years. We’re a significant community asset.”

For more than twenty-five years, Toshiba Medical has been a proud imaging partner of Terrebonne General Medical Center (TGMC). TGMC has continued to be a leading cardiac care provider in the market, and we congratulate their physicians and staff for all they have achieved.