I had the good fortune of spending two beautiful summer days meeting with the governance and medical staff of Yampa Valley Medical Center as they contemplate their role in a future characterized by delivering population health. They recognize that they’re practicing in a state that is, generally speaking, quite healthy. Picture a cloudless sky, 85°F temperature, with zero humidity. This is the bucolic setting for a special hospital nestled in the community of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. People move to Steamboat to take advantage of the spectacular weather, the amazing skiing, and all of the natural beauty in the landscape.
Despite the enviable geography and weather, the health needs of their community still require attention. I stuck to my stump speech and encouraged them to continue to engage with the community at large, and lay the groundwork for the transition from volume to value. I challenged members of the medical staff to work together and begin the difficult process of self-evaluation, measurement, closure of the feedback loop, and to “practice” before the arrival of bundled payment, and potentially even global capitation. In very frank discussions with their board of trustees and medical staff leaders, they were receptive to this message.
Kudos to Yampa Valley Medical Center, as they recognize the status quo may not be sustainable beyond another 2-3 year time horizon. Change management is a lot easier when the platform you’re standing on is in flames. Change management in beautiful Steamboat Springs, Colorado, with a cloudless sky, and no humidity (despite recording-breaking heat back at home in Philadelphia), is not nearly as easy. I’m looking forward to possibly returning to Yampa Valley one year from now to gauge their acceptance of the tenets of population health and to assess how much further along in the journey they really are. I have confidence in their leadership, like CEO, Frank May, and CMO, Dr. Lisa Kettering. In the end, physicians can run far away, but they cannot ultimately hide from the tsunami of change.