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Coordinating better care through strong physician partnerships

February 8, 2013
  The Class of 2015profiles the -women and men who joined the AHA board this year.

Strengthening partnerships between hospitals and physicians is essential to delivering high-quality, coordinated care, especially as the reimbursement system changes to one based on value instead of volume, says AHA board member William 'Bud' Barrow II, president and CEO of Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center in Lafayette, LA.

'We have to work hand in hand with our physician partners,' says Barrow, who joined the AHA board Jan. 1. 'They're the experts, and we need to be aligned with them to give them a platform to deliver great care all the time.' At Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center - a 216 bed hospital that is part of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, Barrow is putting that practice into action. He has driven several large-scale physician
affiliation agreements and joint venture partnerships, including Heart Hospital of Lafayette and Park Place Surgical Hospital.

'Physicians are our number one partner, and patient care is our number one job,' says Barrow, who has led Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center since 2006.

But it's notjust physicians who have to be partners in care. Barrow says it's important to engage the entire workforce in performance improvement efforts.

'When you work in health care, it's not ajob, it's a calling,' says Barrow. 'We are in many ways helping to create a healthier community and environment in which people can prosper, and we have to make sure we do our best every day with every patient.' An important tool in helping to build a healthier workforce is the AHA Workforce Center, an online hub to help members of the association and its affiliates. A collaborative effort of the AHA's American Organization of Nurse Executives, American Society of Healthcare Human Resources Administration and other affiliates,www.healthcareworkforce.org

brings together resources to support workforce recruitment, engagement, retention, succession planning, diversity, culture and models for the future.

One of the biggest challenges the hospital field faces this year, according to Barrow, is potential further cuts to Medicare and Medicaid payments as part of efforts to reduce the nation's deficit. He says hospital leaders must make clear to their lawmakers all that hospitals are doing to create healthier communities and that further payment reductions would hurt their ability to maintain access to patient care.

'I think we have a very powerful story to tell,' says Barrow, who would like to see stronger member
participation in efforts like AHA Advocacy Days and the Coalition to Protection America's Health Care. The 13-year-old coalition, a major communications initiative of hospitals, national, state, regional and metropolitan hospital associations, and businesses, is dedicated to presenting the hospital story through TV, radio, online and print advertising.

Before joining Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center, Barrow served as CEO of Opelousas (LA) General Health System and Desoto Regional Health System in Mansfield, LA. He also is a past chairman of the Louisiana Hospital Association and chairman of the AHA's Regional Policy Board 7.

Barrow is excited to serve on the AHA board with a diverse group of hospital leaders.

'I hope that I can help us focus on things that are of strategic longterm value to America's health and not on short-term quick fix solutions that at the end of the day won't move us to where we need to be as a field,' he says.

By Pete Davis