Portage Health makes annual report to community

HOUGHTON – The challenges of increasing costs and uncertainty about the ramifications of the Affordable Care Act were topics of discussion Friday during the annual Portage Health report to the community in the Michigan Technological University Memorial Union Building.

Speaking to representatives of business, education and local government, Jim Bogan, Portage Health president and CEO, said nationally, health care may not be getting the attention it needs.

“A lot of health care issues have been kicked down the road,” he said.

The recent efforts in Congress to determine from where cuts to the federal budget should come and how to raise revenue have meant health care, including hospitals, has taken some hits, Bogan said.

In order to maintain and increase its level of services, Bogan said Portage Health has been looking for companies, including insurance companies, or organizations with which the hospital can partner.

Since Portage Health is in a good condition financially and structurally now, Bogan said it’s a good time to look for a partner because of the challenges to health care.

“We believe we’re approaching a dialogue for partnership from a position of strength,” he said.

Bogan said Portage Health has been talking with several possible partners, and is waiting to get responses to requests for proposals from them.

Of the many issues facing health care nationally and locally, Bogan said a need for more doctors is prominent.

“The physician shortage has been evident,” he said.

However, Bogan said Portage Health will be hiring two new physicians in 2013 and five are set to come to the hospital in 2014.

“We’re trending the right way,” he said.

At Portage Health, Bogan said some doctors are nearing retirement, so that could be an issue in the not-too-distant future.

Another “huge” cost Portage Health is facing is the increased need for information technology, which is expensive.

“The biggest expenditure we have on our budget is information technology,” he said.

If the hospital could find a partner with an established and up-to-date IT structure, Bogan said that would take a great deal of financial pressure off Portage Health.

Bogan said the hospital’s clinical efforts are tracked in order to maintain quality.

“We’re very proud of what we’ve been able to do from a quality perspective,” he said.

However, Bogan said hospital employees are always looking for ways to provide better service.

“There’s always room for improvement,” he said.

Some aspects of the Affordable Care Act have taken effect already, and more will take effect this year and 2014, but there is still uncertainty how that will affect hospitals and the coverage they provide.

Bogan said for the present, Portage Health is looking for just one partner, which could come from anywhere in the United States.

“We’re going to need those other people,” he said.

Also speaking during the Portage Health report to the community were Betty MacInnes, vice president for quality management, Kevin Store, director of marketing and communications, and Brian Donahue, vice president for finance and chief financial officer.