To achieve and maintain financial strength, every part of Intermountain is expected to operate efficiently and to "carry its own weight." We're a large organization, and it's imperative that all parts of Intermountain be fiscally sound.

The clinical and financial sides of Intermountain Healthcare are inextricably linked: Clinical departments are using best practices to improve quality and deliver care efficiently; financial departments are looking for ways to better use the resources we have so resources are available for patient care.

As a trustee, you'll be asked to consider requests for new or expanded services or medical equipment.

Here are some factors to consider:

1. Financially, our goal has always been to make health services within each community as self-supporting as possible. We want to match our facilities and services to our communities' needs. Typically, our facilities grow and develop as the population in various communities grows.

2. In terms of quality, quantity matters. Studies have shown a direct relationship between how often a medical team performs a complex procedure or diagnostic test and how well the team performs. Experience correlates to outcomes, and lower volume typically results in lower quality. So, when you're asked to consider establishing new services, keep in mind that it's not just a question of investing money to establish a clinical program: A clinical service requires a certain minimum number of patients in order to achieve high quality medical outcomes.

Results

The results of Intermountain's focus on operating efficiency are amply demonstrated by its fee structure. According to Utah Department of Health data (2007), inpatient charges at Intermountain hospitals are, on average, 19% lower than charges at non-Intermountain hospitals in Utah. Outpatient surgical charges at Intermountain facilities are, on average, 33% lower than average charges at non-Intermountain facilities in Utah (2006 data). Federal Medicare studies also show Intermountain hospital charges to be, on average, 27% lower than the national average (2004 data).

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