The court has unsealed the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) and Idaho Attorney General’s (AG’s) complaint.
For perspective, here are my thoughts.
A complaint is a series of accusations; it is neither proof nor evidence.
To initiate litigation against us, the FTC and AG must set out in a complaint the basis for why they should be permitted by the court to sue us. They must set out allegations that, if supported at trial with evidence, would be sufficient to form the basis for a legal claim.
Ultimately, Saint Alphonsus, Treasure Valley Hospital, and the government must be able to prove all of their allegations.
Consider the context.
The complaint is a broad distillation from more than a million pages of documents, spanning many years, that we have provided to Saint Al’s attorneys and the FTC and the AG’s Office, including documents that predate the setting of our strategic direction by St. Luke’s leaders, physicians, and board members in March 2010.
Am I surprised that some of these comments, cut and pasted into a complaint, might look questionable? No. Complaints are drafted to portray isolated information in the worst possible light.
Directional change takes time.
In 2010, we determined that we must change from pay for volume to pay for value. This is a fundamental, disruptive change to many, if not most, of our processes and efforts, and won’t happen overnight.
We decided to lead this transformation and knew it would take years. It has been a process and continues to be a process. And I am not surprised that people may have said or thought things during this time of change that have not been in line with our vision, or that they may not have completely bought into our strategy from the beginning.
It takes time to get alignment, agreement, a plan to move forward, and a structure in place to do so. It takes time to set goals and then undertake strategic initiatives. These are all normal and expected aspects of change management.
In the past two years, we have accomplished much. The process of refining our strategies, course correcting, and then realigning again, of course, never ends.
Have we reached the end of our journey? No. But we have much to show for our efforts and much to be proud of, even though we have just begun. Imagine what we can do when we are left to thoughtfully experiment and innovate!
We realize that, despite our intentions, and despite our willingness to lead this transformation, the realities of litigation are such that outcomes are unpredictable. The ultimate measure of our success is not a tally of wins and losses in court, but rather the objective measures over time of how we are making our communities healthier, making our care the best it can be, and lowering the costs for the population we serve.
No journey is without its challenges. I am grateful to share this one with the unflappable, professional, and resourceful St. Luke’s family!
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.