South Florida Hospital News
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May 2006 - Volume 2 - Issue 11
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Memorial CEO Discusses Health Care Trends

It's difficult to believe that Frank Sacco wasn't always interested in health care. But no. He had been attending the University of Miami, and said that as part of the ROTC program, he "got assigned to the medical service corps, and just stayed in." Now, and for nearly two decades, he has been the CEO of Memorial Healthcare System and is responsible for leading one of the largest health care systems in the State.

Sacco spoke recently at a South Florida Health Care Forum about some of the health care trends in the nation, and what they mean to health providers. He said that one of the current trends is related to age. "There's a need for service to the Baby Boomer population," he said. "And we're going through the generation cycle. First there was the Greatest Generation—those from World War II. Now the Baby Boomers, then the Yuppies, then Generation X and Generation Y. As we start to recruit health care workers and physicians, we see there's a generation gap.

"If you look at many Generation X physicians they don't want to be on call, they don't want to work weekends and nights. They're more interested in their own personal quality of life. The previous generations had more dedication to service, more concern for patients who weren't able to pay. Now they have a different attitude."

Sacco mentioned that one-half of all medical students are women, and he sees job-sharing as another development he has noticed. "A lot of women want families so they work part-time; so we might have three people doing the job of two. We didn't see much of that in the past."

The use of computers and information technology is yet a further trend seen throughout the health care industry. "Some organizations just can't afford it," he said. "About 2/3 of them can't make the capital investment." This, he believes, will lead to a digital divide.

And what the CEO calls a major challenge is "physicians taking services that were historically done in hospitals into their own practices." He said "everyone is competing for the shrinking dollar," and the physicians are looking to supplement their incomes by doing their own EKGs, stress tests, MRIs, rehabilitation programs, etc.

But speaking in general terms, Sacco said the most important overall concern is for health care systems to produce "a sustainable economic model. There are very few models that are working and proven that can be replicated."

Is Memorial Healthcare System one of them? "We're working very hard and we're now financially viable," he agreed, but indicated that even they, for example, have had to push back some needs from part of a five-year to a 10-year capital plan. He added that one of the obstacles facing the health care industry in general is the federal government asking businesses to handle more of the cost, with the result that some large and most mid-sized companies are expecting employees to participate in a high deductible and co-pay system, while some of the smaller companies are not offering benefits at all.

Sacco, however, has been doing his part to introduce innovations that have led to much of MHS's success since his term as CEO began in 1987. Memorial's mission is to provide safe, quality, cost-effective, customer-focused health care services to patients regardless of their ability to pay, with the goal of improving the health of the community. With that in mind, Sacco started a customer service initiative called the "Seven Pillars of Excellence," which includes patient safety, quality of care and service, customer satisfaction, people, financial performance, growth, and community.

He also addressed the nursing shortage by encouraging employees to assist with the recruitment of nurses by offering workers a bonus for each person successfully hired. And he spearheaded a partnership with the Florida Department of Health and Human Services and Broward County Government to provide primary care to uninsured residents that serves as a national model, with nearly 100,000 patient visits and millions of dollars in free or low-cost medicine provided to low-income residents each year.

In addition, Sacco has led the expansion of MHS from a single hospital to a comprehensive health care system which includes five hospitals, a nursing home, and a network of outpatient clinics and resource centers, and he has led MHS to its strongest financial position in its 50-year history.

With accomplishments such as that, Sacco is no doubt equipped to handle the trends that he sees coming to the future of the health care industry.

For more information, visit www.mhs.net.
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