PA Deputy Secretary for Health Innovation Coming to SHIP

(Honesdale, July 24, 2018)…Lauren Hughes, MD, MPH, MSc, FAAFP, Pennsylvania’s Deputy Secretary for Health Innovation in the Department of Health will be the keynote speaker at the annual SHIP (State Health Improvement Plan) breakfast on August 3rd  at Silver Birches in Tafton.  Wayne Memorial is the lead fiscal agent for the local SHIP partnership.

In her role as Deputy Secretary for Health Innovation, Dr. Hughes creates and leads statewide strategies to improve health and healthcare delivery for all Pennsylvanians, with a focus on initiatives combatting the opioid and heroin epidemic and transforming rural health care delivery.

The title of Dr. Hughes’ SHIP presentation is A Path Forward for Strengthening Rural Hospitals and their Community Connections. She is expected to touch on a new payment structure called the Rural Health Model, which Wayne Memorial Hospital is considering.  Sometimes called global budgeting, the Rural Health Model provides hospitals with a fixed amount of funding for a fixed period of time from multiple payers (public and private), rather than fee-for-service rates for individual services or cases. It’s intended to provide a stable stream of revenue to hospitals that are often struggling financially. Hospitals can save money if they are able to reduce their expected expenses.  One way to do that is to prevent hospital readmissions and focus on preventive care.

“The goal of the Rural Health Model is to help rural communities thrive,” said Dr. Hughes. “To do so, we must keep the doors of rural hospitals open, retain jobs in these communities, and invest money in community programs to help people live healthy lives outside of the hospital.  In turn, the hospital will be the epicenter of community health, not just a place people go when they’re sick.  It’s a whole new way of thinking about healthcare, and we are so proud to partner with Wayne Memorial on this effort!”

Wayne Memorial CEO David Hoff agreed, stating “This method of payment incentivizes us to invest in population health almost as much as we devote to healing.  It’s a whole new way of operating, and we’re excited about the next steps. It goes hand in hand with what the hospital and our community health centers have been doing under the Keystone Accountable Care model for our Medicare patients, where we are similarly incentivized to implement measures to help keep people healthy.”

Hoff said the new payment structure could be “truly transformational for Wayne Memorial Hospital. He looks forward to Dr. Hughes’ presentation. “She is truly passionate about the sustainability of rural healthcare systems like ours.”

Before joining the DOH, Dr. Hughes was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at the University of Michigan where she studied health services research.  She holds several degrees in zoology and Spanish, as well as a Master’s in Public Health. Last year she was elected to a five-year term on the American Board of Family Medicine Board of Directors.

Photo: Lauren Hughes, MD, MD, MPH, MSc, FAAFP