If Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. decides to stay in Louisville, Ky., its employees will get their own special day at the zoo. But that's not all.
They'll also receive discounts on everything from Louisville Ballet tickets to a load of furniture from local stores.
What's more, former HCA employees who move to new Louisville digs will get discounts on mortgage rates, free checking for a year at local banks, and a 5% rebate from local homebuilders.
It's all part of a package of enticements from 220 Louisville businesses seeking to keep Columbia in town.
Last week, Columbia Healthcare Corp. merged with Hospital Corporation of America to form the nation's largest hospital chain. Its executives have not decided where the company will be headquartered, although it apparently hinges on lease negotiations for the chain's University Hospital in Louisville. The two companies employ about 1,600 employees.
The package of discounts and services was coordinated by the Greater Louisville Economic Development Partnership, a consortium that works to attract businesses to the community. The group presented the package last week to Rick Scott, Columbia/HCA's president and chief executive.
The partnership couldn't place a value on the package.
Last month, the group put up a billboard that reads, "Louisville loves Columbia Healthcare." The space was donated by a local bank. The partnership also printed 150 sweatshirts with the same slogan.
"We want to let the company know we really value it," said Mike Bosc, the group's spokesman.
Point of information.In another indication that their time has come, thousands of information-systems professionals will be wooed-and possibly wowed-by a record number of vendors trying to shoehorn into the exhibition space at the annual association conference this week in Phoenix, Ariz.
One aim of these meetings has always been networking, but with priorities such as system integration now catching fire, networking is something vendors are hot to sell, not just engage in.
The Health Information and Management Systems Society has sold out 184,000 square feet of exhibit floor-double the space available at last year's conference-and had a waiting list of about 40 exhibitors hoping for last-minute cancellations, said Andrew Pasternack, a HIMSS spokesman. About a third of the nearly 250 exhibitors are first-timers.
It's a fertile field: About 3,000 attendees are pre-registered this year, compared with 1,800 last year, and the association's crew expects another 1,000 to register at the conference. The mix includes information-system decisionmakers as well as key managers who whisper in decisionmakers' ears. Last year's percentages included 18% chief information officers, 39% department directors, 27% staff management and 10% chief executives and other senior management.
Half the attendees represented facilities of 500 or more beds, and only 10% were from institutions of fewer than 200 beds, Mr. Pasternack said.
Getting the message across.Some vendors apparently are willing to provide state-of-the-art computerization and communications to the HIMSS conference for free, showing off their capabilities in the process.
A joint effort by four companies is providing complimentary voice-mail service for all attendees, accessible from any telephone inside or outside the Phoenix convention center, said HIMSS spokesman Andrew Pasternack. By calling a general 800 number, which attendees give out to their family, office and whoever else they want to keep in touch with, messages can be routed to a personal voice-mail box number.
Attendees then can tap into that box at any time. Faxes also can be directed into the box, and attendees can have them printed out at the convention center, their hotel, office or any other fax destination they designate.
Last year, messages were on a closed system of video terminals that had to be downloaded from a computer.
Companies combining to offer the service are Fujitsu Communication Systems, Octel Communications Corp., Ring Medical and Spectralink.
Letters to the editor. Elizabeth McCaughey, whose Feb. 7 article in The New Republic on healthcare reform was blasted by the Clinton administration, has found another enemy.
According to Karen Ignagni, president of the Group Health Association of America, a Washington-based managed-care trade group, the story titled "No Exit" was "an irresponsible piece of propaganda posing as policy analysis." Her response follows a lengthy, strongly worded rebuttal from the White House.
In a seven-page letter to The New Republic, the GHAA took exception with Ms. McCaughey's characterizations of HMOs, which she claimed "restrict choice" and "ration high-tech care," among other criticisms.
"Fifty million members can't be wrong," Ms. Ignagni said of the total HMO membership.
And they don't take American Express. Outliers previously told you about the card carried by Michael Young, president and chief executive officer of Lancaster (Pa.) General Hospital, that proclaimed the hospital to be a not-for-profit organization (Sept. 21, 1992, p. 44). It was the first business card Outliers had seen touting a hospital's ownership status, and it was particularly noteworthy given the penchant of Pennsylvania municipalities to squeeze money out of not-for-profit hospitals in return for not stripping them of their property-tax exemptions.
Well, the Lancaster school district tore up Mr. Young's card. Starting in July, the hospital will pay the school district $650,000 a year for four years in cash and healthcare services. Under an agreement, the school district, in turn, agreed not to challenge the hospital's status as a not-for-profit institution or its exemption from property taxes.
Big money. Nearly half of the healthcare executives who attended a recent symposium on primary-care network development said they have committed $1 million or more toward putting together such a delivery system.
The symposium, held last month in New Orleans, was sponsored by Physician Strategies 2000 and MODERN HEALTHCARE. It attracted about 300 attendees, 132 of whom responded to a survey on primary-care network development.