October 1 marks an important day for St. Luke’s Health System. Our long-time colleagues of the Elks Rehab System have decided to shift efforts away from being a provider of rehabilitation services and focus on supporting rehabilitation services in Idaho through philanthropy and volunteerism. St. Luke’s will expand rehabilitation services to include those previously provided by the Elks.
Through this transition, St. Luke’s will realize the next phase of development necessary to more effectively support the overall health of people in our community and to provide accountable care.
I have often written and spoken of the fragmentation and lack of coordination in the healthcare delivery system of the U.S. St. Luke’s and the Elks organizations are taking an important step in providing an extended part of the continuum of care to patients in a seamless and integrated fashion.
Patients requiring rehabilitation services will now have their care better coordinated and experience smoother and safer transitions in care, made possible by an integrated electronic medical record and the involvement of case managers and physicians working together before and after transfer to a post-acute care setting. These same experts will be collaborating to develop and implement evidence-based best practices and protocols for care.
As St. Luke’s continues work toward our Triple Aim – Better Health, Better Care, and Lower Costs – we welcome nearly 500 former Elks employees who will now provide services as part of an integrated delivery system.
St. Luke’s and the dedicated and caring rehabilitation experts who formerly worked for the Elks Rehab System will be able to further improve the already outstanding care that patients previously received from the Elks, and we will have many opportunities to work together to reduce the total cost of care.
In 2012, about 41 percent of Medicare beneficiaries discharged from hospitals went to a post-acute care setting: a rehabilitation hospital, skilled nursing facility, long-term acute care hospital, or home health services.
According to the Medicare Payment Advisory Committee, care delivered in the post-acute care setting accounted for 17 percent of spending under the standard Medicare payment system.
Medicare and Congress are considering many reforms that may result in curtailing this spending and the associated payments to providers. Therefore, independent providers of post-acute care services will be under increasing pressure, and the Elks have provided St. Luke’s the opportunity to achieve economies of scale and efficiencies from integrating these services to allow St. Luke’s to provide even higher levels of quality and outcomes at a lower cost.
We are honored that the Elks selected St. Luke’s as their choice of healthcare provider to carry on their legacy of care and to achieve Triple Aim goals. The Elks will continue to be very involved, in reviewing our progress toward these goals and in supporting opportunities to further their vision to have world-class rehabilitation services available to everyone in Idaho, regardless of ability to pay.
And with the addition of so many committed and dedicated rehab professionals to the St. Luke’s family, we have a tremendous head start on continuing the legacy begun by the Elks. Welcome to the family, and we’re looking forward to the amazing things to come!
Along with our Statesman special section honoring the Elks, linked to above, we've featured the Elks' inspiring legacy with additional stories and photos. Enjoy!
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.