MODERN HEALTHCARE told you a few months ago that some attorneys and consultants were calling President Clinton's health plan the "full-employment act" because of its benefits to their industries.
Now, the nation's largest hospital alliance, Voluntary Hospitals of America, is trying to sort through the hundreds of consultants putting out their shingles as experts in developing integrated health delivery systems.
"VHA members are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants who have very little experience in this area," said John Koster, M.D., VHA's senior vice president for integration services, at a meeting with MODERN HEALTHCARE editors and reporters this month.
To help VHA's 953 hospitals find the best, Dr. Koster personally is inviting leading consultants in integrated delivery systems to come to VHA's headquarters in Irving, Texas, for one-on-one interviews. VHA hopes to compile a catalog or listing that its members can use when they need outside assistance.
Dr. Koster already has some recommendations from the presidents of VHA's 29 regional healthcare systems.
No completion date has been set for the list, but he said the names could change frequently, depending on hospitals' experience with various consultants.
In addition, the list won't necessarily include consultants' hourly rates. Dr. Koster said he'll be asking past customers whether they received value for their money.
Lobbying leverage.The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has tapped into a lode of lobbying clout with the appointment of John B. Laing as vice president of marketing and external relations (Jan. 10, p. 8).
Mr. Laing comes to the Joint Commission from a five-year stint with Burson-Marsteller, a public relations and lobbying firm with 40 offices on five continents and $200 million in business last year, according to the top man in the firm's Chicago office, Harlan Teller.
Among the firm's recent achievements was a certain degree of success as lobbyist on behalf of the government of Mexico on the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mr. Teller said. The firm has stepped up its representation of healthcare clients, including lobbying in Washington, where developments in healthcare performance measurement under reform would certainly interest the Joint Commission.
The commission became a healthcare client last August with Mr. Laing as the account's point man out of Burson-Marsteller's Chicago office. That's right about the time the commission was looking for a new marketing/government relations vice president. The position became vacant June 4 when Nancie E. Noie accepted a post elsewhere in the organization, said commission spokesman Stephen L. Davidow.
Ms. Noie remained as acting vice president while the commission conducted a national search for her replacement, but she resigned from the Joint Commission days before Mr. Laing was to take his new position.
Try this one on for size.A maker of so-called flat-panel computer screens is trying to find a place in the hospital market by promising not to take up too much space.
The scene is the average hospital room, already crowded with patient-care gizmos and not the best place to plop a computer terminal for bedside nursing purposes. Enter Planar Systems of Beaverton, Ore., which has put on the market a video-screen terminal less than three inches thick, a tenth of the usual space taken up by a display terminal, said Terry Thomas, Planar's sales manager.
Until now, the screen has been sold mainly as a component for other computer hardware makers to include in their products, such as screens for the stock market. But healthcare information systems vendors saw it as part of the solution for the constrained hospital room and worked with Planar to develop a terminal for healthcare, Mr. Thomas said.
The collaboration resulted in a terminal that can be mounted on a wall with a pull-down keyboard, or mounted on a bedside swing arm. They sell for $1,395 each, with discounts starting with quantities of 10 or more, Mr. Thomas said. The company recently reached an agreement to ship 300 terminals to North Kansas City (Mo.) Hospital, he said.
For more information, call 503-690-6952.
Cheaper and faster.If you think U.S. healthcare construction is expensive, you wouldn't want to build a new facility in Japan or Great Britain. A recent study shows the United States is among the most competitive in the world in terms of costs of building healthcare facilities. The study, conducted by Bovis, a New York-based construction management firm, found that while the construction costs of a five-story, 235,000-square-foot acute-care hospital in the United States (excluding the cost of land) would be about $43 million, the estimated cost to build an identical facility is about 21% higher in Britain and more than 150% higher in Japan.
The study also estimated that an extra 12 months would be required to complete a project in England, and an additional 17 months would be needed in Japan. High levels of regulatory oversight are believed to be responsible for higher costs and protracted planning time to design and build in England. Tight budgets and barriers to market entry severely hampered the efficiency of planning and constructing facilities in Japan, the study said.
The great name game, continued.We've said it before, "A good name is hard to find." And Denver's P/SL Swedish Healthcare System proves that again with its struggle to swap an awkward title for something short and sweet.
The trouble was trademarks, which excluded the system's top picks, HealthFirst and HealthWest. Frustrated, P/SL executives eyed names dropped by other merging systems. In Minneapolis, once the home of P/SL chief Nick Hilger, they found HealthOne. HealthOne was a big name in the Twin Cities and a top competitor of Mr. Hilger's former employer, HealthEast. In 1992, it merged with another large system, LifeSpan, to become HealthSpan Health Systems Corp.
Last month, P/SL bought the HealthOne trademark for an undisclosed sum, and this month, it began operating under the new name.
Now|.|.|.|any bidders for P/SL Swedish Healthcare System?