TDH report highlights Ballad’s successes but recommends some changes

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The Tennessee Department of Health says Ballad Health continues to offer a public advantage but recommends the health system make improvements to communication. 

TDH has published it’s an annual report on Ballad’s Certificate of Public Advantage (COPA), an agreement between the region’s largest health system and the state. The report addresses COPA-related successes, challenges, concerns, and complaints.

The report lists several “COPA-related successes of the past year,” including: 

-Hospitals that were under threat of closure remain open, as required by the TOC.

-There have been fewer layoffs post-merger than had been expected.

-Ballad Health submitted each of the required periodic reports and three-year plans in compliance with the TOC.

-Ballad Health promptly provided additional data and information on quality performance upon request.

-Ballad Health promptly provided additional data and information on the Accountable Care Community upon request.

-The COPA Compliance Office responds quickly and thoroughly to inquiries from TDH.

-Ballad’s Health’s executive staff meets frequently with the COPA Monitor and provides information upon request.

-Ballad Health’s Greene County hospital consolidation plan appears to be an innovative and successful solution. TDH is optimistic about this experiment. A description of the plan is available here.

-Ballad Health’s three year plans outline bold approaches to improving Population Health, Children’s Health, Behavioral Health Access, Rural Health Access, Region-wide Health Information Exchange, Health Graduate Research, and Graduate Medical Education in the region.

-TDH is particularly impressed by the Accountable Care Community that Ballad Health is playing a lead role in establishing in the region.

However, TDH says Ballad needs to do a better job communicating and engaging members of the public and other stakeholders. 

-Avoid announcing significant changes that require approval before receiving that approval. In recent service line change announcements, Ballad did not clearly identify which elements of the proposed changes had been pre-approved and which required approval by the TDH. When making announcements, take care to clearly acknowledge what has not yet been approved.

-Engage others. Ballad Health is encouraged to engage local stakeholders and the community in a public input process before finalizing plans going forward and to revisit its current communication strategy. Ballad is more specifically encouraged to consult and engage the providers who would be affected by changes for their input prior to making material changes.

The health department also agreed with the Local Advisory Council “that Ballad has not been successful in educating the public on the types of care that will be provided in its local hospital after trauma center consolidations are completed.” 

TDH identified public messaging and communication among the “challenges” related to the COPA, pointing out that insufficient information provided to the public “can result in rumors and misinformation.”

“Ballad Health, the Local Advisory Council, and TDH staff have all received criticism for ineffective communication with the public,” the report states.

Click here to view the Tennessee Department of Health’s full report. 

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