Friday, April 20, 2012

Keeping Our Healthcare Dollars In Our Family

The cost of healthcare benefits for employees and their dependents in most organizations is a significant percentage of the organization’s budget, and it’s a challenge to manage this expense. This is certainly true at GBMC.

In calendar year 2011, we spent $23.7 million for healthcare benefits for our employees and their dependents. How did we spend this money? Well, we spent $4.1 million on drugs/prescriptions. Of the remaining $19.6 million:

$8.5 million was paid for care at GBMC, GBMA (our employed physicians), and  
          to other GBMC medical staff members.
$11.1 million was for care from other hospitals, physicians who are not on our
          staff, and to other providers of care

Now, I am well aware that there are things that we don’t do at GBMC. Heart surgery is one of them and we don’t do transplants. I also know that some of the $11 million was paid for emergencies, durable medical equipment, and rehabilitation. But a lot of it went to other hospitals and other physicians for things that we and our medical staff do within the GBMC family.

We have to ask ourselves the question, even when taking into account those employees living far away from GBMC and its doctors, what are we doing when we are spending GBMC money at other healthcare organizations?

I have to hold myself to my words that I don’t want to do anything for our employees and their loved ones that I wouldn’t do for my own loved ones. We have very high quality physicians and other providers and excellent clinical outcomes in our GBMC system, so we ought to try to keep as many of those dollars in our own family as possible.  The onus is on me, our senior leadership team and our physician leaders to continue building and improving our system so that our employees wouldn’t consider going anywhere else for their care as long as the service is available at GBMC.

We need to spend as many of our GBMC healthcare dollars in our own system as possible.

A related issue that has been called out by our Employee Relations Council is we are not very good at promoting wellness among our staff and need to make improvements.  We’re working on some ideas, such as possibly changing our health benefits to be able to provide more wellness initiatives– like additional exercise classes on campus for employees before or after work.  We’ve done a pretty good job of making healthy meals available in the cafeteria but recognize that we need to do even more.

The Platinum PPO plan is by far the preferred insurance coverage option for our employees, with 87 percent of staff choosing this plan.   I encourage all of our employees to attend one of the spring Town Hall meetings to learn details of changes that will soon be made to our health benefit plans, including this PPO option.  The amount contributed by employees for some benefits may actually be lower this year, and a new "Friends and Family" plan will provide the plan participant and their dependents with less expensive healthcare if the care is delivered within the GBMC family.

As we grow the Greater Baltimore Health Alliance (GBHA) with our wonderful employed (GBMA) and affiliated (private practice) primary care and specialty sites, our implementation of electronic medical records, and moving toward the patient centered medical home – we will have more choices for our employees to use our system to get to better health, and better care at a lower cost.

What ideas do you have for keeping healthcare spending within the GBMC family?

Upcoming Town Hall Meetings

We are in the process of having our Spring Town Hall Meetings. The Town Hall Meetings are an opportunity for direct communication between employees and senior management. If you would like to submit a question prior to the meeting, please submit it via email to or drop your written questions off to the reception area in Human Resources. Appropriate questions deal with the hospital/organization, not with personal issues that are best resolved through your manager.

All are encouraged to attend a meeting. Raffles will be conducted at each meeting, and lucky employees can win gift certificates! The value of these meetings is directly related to your participation so we look forward to seeing you there!

The meeting schedule is:  
· April 23 – 2:00 p.m. (South Chapman)
· April 24 – 12 p.m. - GBMC Conference Center (Lunch Served)
· April 26 – 9:00 a.m. - GBMC at Owings Mills
· April 30 – 12 p.m. - GBMC Conference Center (Lunch Served)
· June 8 – 08:30 a.m. - Gilchrist Hospice Care


  1. Regarding the food at the hospital cafeteria: I would like to see more low salt options. I am trying to limit my salt intake and one bowl of soup usually exceeds my goal for the day! Alternatively, perhaps on the menu board they could somehow indicate the best options if you are watching your salt intake.

  2. Piggybacking off of the salt comment, it would be nice if the reduced sodium (40% less) soy sauce was brought back for us sushi eaters.

  3. Many GBMA physicians offices send their patient's laboratory tests to non-GBMC laboratories. Our own GBMC laboratory provides excellent service by highly trained laboratory professionals. Why not keep laboratory tests within the GBMC family?

  4. Thanks for your comments.

    Matt Tresansky, our Director of Food and Nutritional services responded to me on the first two comments:


    In response to question 1. ----

    Food and Nutrition is currently using low sodium chicken and beef bases for their soups. We are still in the process of finding a low sodium option for our seafood and vegetable soups. As soon as we finalize the low sodium options, we will adjust the menus accordingly.

    In response to question 2. ----

    We will contact AFC sushi and see if they can provide low sodium soy sauce, if not we will contact our primary vendor to see if the product is available and we will supply.


    Thanks, Matt.

    In response to the comment on keeping GBMA tests in the family, beginning May 1, the "default" lab for on-campus GBMA physicians offices will be GBMC. We are working on a plan to be able to bring specimens to our campus from off-campus practices.

  5. I have used other systems based on the fact that I am not willing to wait 3 1/2 to 4 months to see many of the specialists here that do not have access to new patients. Gbmc does not promote wellness by covering licensed nutritionists only when diabetes is involved. Everything else is out of pocket.

  6. Financially it seems to make sense that employees use GBMC as their primary health care center. However, there is a major drawback concerning privacy when an employee becomes a patient. All information is out there for anyone who needs to access it. I, for one, don't ever want to have sensitive procedures performed on myself, and then run into the staff member in the hallway the following week. Even if the procedure is "routine", to the staff member who is now a patient, "routine" is still private. I prefer to keep my healthcare separate from my place of employment.

  7. How are the GBMC family physicians going to cope
    with a large increase of new patients?
    Longer hours may not be enough. I have chosen in house proceedures and specalist when needed, but I really like my family physician and don't feel I should be charged more for seeing him.

  8. I realize it's been months since this post, but I just recently tried to use a GBMC Chiropractor, only to learn that THERE AREN'T ANY. And as such, I've been charged a $30 co-pay for a service that I physically cannot receive from GBMC. How is this fair? Why am I being charged like a patient that chooses to receive care elsewhere when I have no other choice? Why doesn't GBMC promote wellness by eating the $30 charge and allowing me to see a physician that will make/keep me well? I think that services not performed at GBMC should be covered like they are.


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