I’ve asked St. Luke’s Health System Vice President and General Counsel Christy Neuhoff to share observations about her teams' work and roles. Her thoughts are presented here. I’ve introduced Christy in a previous post, and you’ll be hearing more from her and other members of our executive team in this space in the future.
Few industries are as complex, heavily regulated, and publicly scrutinized as health care. Thus health care providers, whose focus must be to care for people – not to interpret regulations, or to interact with government agencies and media – face a constantly shifting set of challenges. I have the good fortune to lead the teams that help St. Luke’s navigate those challenges and stay true to the organization’s vision.
I joined St. Luke’s as its general counsel in the summer of 2008 because I share its vision of improving the health of the populations that we serve, delivering better care for patients, and doing so at a lower cost.
Making that vision a reality involves aligning with physicians and other providers to deliver integrated, seamless, and patient-centered quality care across all St. Luke’s settings. Every major decision is guided by St. Luke’s mission and this strategic vision. And in this highly regulated field, implementation of the vision requires us to understand and comply with a complex set of laws and regulations.
Helping St. Luke’s to achieve our vision has been even more rewarding than I had anticipated when I moved to Idaho from a large health system in Florida, which, like St. Luke’s, is a key part of the health care safety net in its state.
The legal team at St. Luke’s is constantly working to make sure that our System cares for people in a manner that is consistent not only with legal requirements but also with the ethical values and commitment to patient care which are so important to all of us, from our leadership to our colleagues in housekeeping, food services, and throughout our organization.
All of the lawyers at St. Luke’s work very hard to make sure we comply with legal requirements governing patient safety and privacy, that we structure transactions and treat our employees in a way that complies with federal and state law, that we are respectful of the needs of employers and other payers, and that we carry out the charitable mission of the System in accordance with the rules of the Internal Revenue Service and the State of Idaho.
These are not easy tasks because applicable laws and regulations are complex and often-shifting. We must keep current with changing requirements, with medical developments, and with St. Luke’s numerous efforts to improve the delivery of health care for our patients and our communities.
We also work with legislators, regulators, and other policy-makers to ensure new laws that will benefit the people of Idaho. For example, we supported legislation to prohibit hospitals from limiting or denying medical staff membership to physicians who own competing facilities.
St. Luke’s has a demonstrated commitment to transforming the delivery of health care to make it better and to reduce its costs. We know that we must have physician leaders at the table to develop solutions, and that these solutions must work for our health insurance providers and government programs.
The St. Luke’s legal team shares the commitment of leadership, our physician partners, our boards, and other valued partners associated with our System, and strives every day to assist our leadership in bringing about the transformation. I know that every member of our team is as committed to the welfare of our patients, our employees, and the people we serve as I am.
David C. Pate, M.D., J.D., is president and CEO of St. Luke's Health System, based in Boise, Idaho. Dr. Pate joined the System in 2009. He received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center.