With novel coronavirus (COVID-19) hospitalizations at record levels, Ballad Health is providing feedback to the communities it serves, intended to optimize healthcare resources for those who need it most. ... read more about Ballad Health issues statement on emergency department utilization.
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Ballad Health issues inaugural Report to Our Communities
Details ongoing work in support of the Appalachian Highlands
As a not-for-profit, private entity, Ballad Health seeks to be socially responsible and to consistently meet the needs of the Appalachian Highlands. A new report published today by the health system provides details about Ballad Health, its mission and steps it has taken in the three years since its creation to further the public benefit.
“Against the backdrop of massive closures of rural hospitals throughout the nation, creating a crisis of access to healthcare in rural communities, Ballad Health was created to preserve and enhance access to needed healthcare in our rural region, reduce the growth in the cost of healthcare and focus on improving the trajectory of health and well-being throughout the Appalachian Highlands,” said Ballad Health Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Alan Levine. “The evidence shows Ballad Health has reduced the cost of healthcare by hundreds of millions of dollars annually, maintained and improved access to healthcare in rural communities and recruited 287 new providers to the region since 2018, including 136 doctors – six of whom are highly-specialized pediatric physicians – and 151 advanced practice providers. We’ve also begun investing in services that will enhance the well-being of our most vulnerable citizens – all while upholding our fiduciary responsibilities to our bondholders.
“We hope this Report to Our Communities is informative, as it attempts to detail the work being done to create a sustainable rural health delivery model while setting high standards for environmental, social and governance responsibilities.”
Included in the report is the impact of the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which led to a material impact on patient volumes, resulting in a 22.6% decline in acute discharges; a 29.3% decline in surgeries performed in hospital settings; a 26.9% decrease in inpatient surgeries; a 30.6% decrease in outpatient surgeries; and a 34.7% decrease in emergency department visits. Ballad Health has reported on these volume impacts, and the financial implications, in its public financial reporting.
As recently outlined by the independent monitor established through the Southwest Virginia Health Authority, the presence of Ballad Health in the region has likely prevented the closure of hospitals. The monitor also cited the likely reduction of approximately $200 million in healthcare costs through Ballad Health’s efforts to enhance value-based care models – efforts that have been cited by Harvard University and UnitedHealthcare [PDF, 6.5MB] as national examples.
Additionally, Fitch Ratings recently affirmed Ballad’s Health “A” rating with a “stable” outlook, despite the financial impact of the pandemic, citing the health system’s strong cash management and “sound” liquidity, while at the same time making a nearly $200 million investment into a common technology platform conversion – an unparalleled deployment during a massive global pandemic.
“This inaugural report summarizes three years of work,” Levine added. “Going forward, the region can expect an annual update to this report, so we can keep our stakeholders informed with facts about how their healthcare system is performing.”