Monday, October 26, 2015

A Young Physician Calls Out A New Cause of Health Care Disparity

Since the formation of GBMC 50 years ago, we have always valued graduate medical education.  I have spent most of my career in academic medicine and teaching pediatric residents and medical students in pediatrics.  The act of being a teacher keeps you on your toes because the learners ask you questions and you realize that you don’t know everything and you have to seek out the information.   So, graduate medical education has always been a gift to GBMC and having smart, young, people—the next generation of physicians - around can only help us get to our vision faster.

Recently, I was glad to attend our Institutional Graduate Medical Education Committee meeting. The Chair of the IGME, Brian A. Kaplan, MD, FACS, who is also chairman of The Department of Otolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery at GBMC is leading the group and helping us reflect on and continually improve our training programs.  During the meeting, we discussed many issues and one of our residents raised the issue about how we can better serve “underserved” populations and remove disparities in care.  Immediately, I started to think about disparities across racial and ethnic groups. We need to work to reduce these disparities but the resident added a new reason for some people not being able to get care - high deductible health insurance plans.  These are the type of plans where someone may have to pay $2-$3,000.00 out of pocket before the insurance kicks in. Our resident physician colleague was talking about how this was precluding some of her patients from getting the care that they needed.

Why do these high deductible plans exist? Well, one reason is that many people believe that you have to make patients “feel the pain” of high cost to get them to shop for better prices and therefore make producers work to lower their prices. When we shop for a car, we always look for the best price for the type of car that we are looking for. I am sure that letting patients know what the price is does have some affect. But I also know that in Germany, for the most part there are no co-pays or deductibles and their costs are about 40% lower than ours. I also believe that it is very hard for an individual patient to know what they are actually buying. Most patients don’t have enough knowledge to know what they really need let alone judge the quality from one provider to another. There is no JD Powers for medical care (Although hospital compare is a good start: ).  I believe that it is sad that we feel compelled to put the onus for lowering the cost of care on the patient. That is why I am so proud of GBMC HealthCare and our third aim …to provide care with the Least Waste. We have the knowledge and the ability to change our care delivery system to get the waste out so the patient is not stuck trying to do this for herself. Our patient centered medical homes, where teams led by physicians with nurse care managers and care coordinators have reduced the cost of care to Medicare beneficiaries by more than 10% over the last 3 years!

I am grateful to my colleague resident physician for being concerned about her patients being able to get the care they need. I am very grateful to all of our residents and faculty for helping us build a better delivery system and for their excellence in learning and teaching. We still have work to do in removing care that doesn’t add to health and in becoming more efficient at what does add to health so that fewer employers will need to have high deductible plans for their employees.

Case Management Week 
Recently, we celebrated all GBMC case managers during National Case Management Week. We are very grateful for all that they do to help our patients.

Case and care managers provide clinical assessment, care coordination, patient education, counseling, case monitoring/clinical pathway management, discharge planning, resource management and patient advocacy.  They are recognized experts and vital participants of the collaborative team, who engage and empower people to understand and access quality, efficient healthcare, as well as enabling cost-effective outcomes.

Our Case managers deliver dedicated assistance to our patients, their care teams and GBMC day in, day out.  Please join me in thanking our case managers for their hard work and for their important role in caring for our patients.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Celebrating GBMC's History & Future

Last Friday night, we celebrated our 50th anniversary with a beautiful gala with more than 1,200 people in attendance. The magical evening, at the Baltimore Convention Center, highlighting GBMC’s service to our community and vision for the future, was a smashing success. I want to use my blog this week to share with you the thoughts that I shared with those who were in attendance.

GBMC has a glorious history and it has a very bright future because of its people.  
Our physicians, our nurses, and the rest of our staff are the lifeblood of our organization. They have all helped GBMC to stand the test of time.  For 50 years, they have been committed to bettering patients' lives by working to keep them well and healing them when they are sick.  For the next 50 years, we will work with them to continue to build the system where every patient, every time gets the care we would want for our own loved ones. But the GBMC family is bigger than just the staff members.

We must remember that GBMC was created by members of the community- volunteers who gave of their time and resources because they saw a need. Today our volunteers’ gifts of time and our donors' gifts of treasure are more important than ever. Their gifts help to assure that our clinicians have what they need to get the job done in our mission of health, healing and hope.

So to all of the GBMC family let me say it is your commitment, dedication and hard work that has transformed a Towson hillside into a mecca of compassion, caring and healing. You are the heart and soul of the GBMC Healthcare System.

GBMC recently received a gracious $5 million gift from The Kahlert Foundation. We are beyond grateful to the Board of the Foundation, to Greg and Roberta Kahlert, and to Greg Kahlert's late parents Bill and Yvonne, because you have been so generous to GBMC.

It is our intention to use this $5 million gift toward designing and constructing, along with our partners at Chesapeake Urology, a new building on our campus that will house up to 16 urologists and provide them with the facilities to deliver cutting edge care. And with this $5 million gift, I also have the immense pleasure of making another announcement, a crowning achievement for GBMC. We have not only reached, but exceeded, our anniversary fundraising goal of $50 million. Thanks to all of you, we raised $54,730,109.

Let that accomplishment hang in the air for a moment. Please recognize the significance of this achievement. $54 million to allow the GBMC HealthCare system to continue to build on the work of the mothers and fathers of GBMC some 50 years ago and to help us move even faster toward our vision. Let me also thank Delbert and Gina Adams and the Gala Committee, Bonnie Stein and the 50th Anniversary Committee, Greg Shaffer and his phenomenal marketing and communications team, Sam Heffner, Frank Palmer, Jerry Focas, Heidi Berman and the Philanthropy Committee, and last, but, not least Jenny Coldiron and her fantastic philanthropy team. What a great job!

So let’s celebrate our half-century of compassionate care – the GBMC Healthcare System is here to serve … and we have only just begun!  Thank You!

To view additional photos from our 50th Anniversary Gala, please visit:

Friday, October 2, 2015

A Wonderful Week for GBMC

It’s hard to believe that our 50th Anniversary Gala is tonight! I remember asking Jenny Coldiron, our VP of Philanthropy, and Mike Hartnett, our then Director of Marketing and Communications, in the spring of 2012 to begin thinking about how to best celebrate 50 years of service to our community. Jenny and her team have done an outstanding job. Greg Shaffer, who took over for Mike when he left, and the marketing and communications team have really “hit it out of the park.”  In the summer of 2012, Harry Johnson, then our Board Chair, asked Bonnie Stein to Chair the 50th Anniversary Planning Committee. Bonnie and the Committee got to work and have overseen a wonderful year-long celebration of our history and the people who have made GBMC what it is today. I am very grateful for all of their work.

So tonight is the big night…the 50th Anniversary Gala. Delbert and Gina Adams and the Gala Committee have really done a fabulous job. It will be a great party to reflect on what we have accomplished and to springboard us into our future and all of the work yet to be done as we fulfill our mission and move closer to our vision.

Patient Safety is our promise!
On Tuesday, we had Sorrel King, of the Josie King Foundation, with us for the day. Josie, Sorrel’s daughter, died because of medical errors. Sorrel created the Foundation in Josie’s memory and has dedicated her life to helping hospitals get safer. Sorrel gave a powerful presentation to a packed Civiletti conference center at noon and then presided over our first “Great Save” celebration where all those who had been honored for their work as part of Great Save Wednesdays were recognized on Tuesday evening.  Six of these individuals were given the Josie King Hero Award by Sorrel, Bonnie Stein, our HealthCare Board Chair, John Saunders, MD, our CMO, Carolyn Candiello, our Vice President for Quality and Patient Safety, and me. We are grateful that Sorrel has the courage to recount Josie’s story and that she spent an entire day with us. Winners of this year’s Josie King Hero Award are as follows: Namhui Burchett, Carolyn Hart, Patricia Kelly, CRNP, Katherine Lynch, RN, Megan Newsome, Dr. Ali Ozhand and Dr. William Zirkin.