Updated March 23 at 9:23am
health care

Lifespan’s future strategic direction detailed


PROVIDENCE – A glimpse into the strategic direction of Lifespan, Rhode Island’s largest hospital system, was offered in its 2010 annual report.

As detailed in a letter from Alfred J. Verrechia, chairman of Lifespan’s board of directors, and George A. Vecchione, president and CEO of Lifespan, the goal is to shape a “patient-centered health care model,” shifting from a hospital care system to a health care system, creating a new alignment between hospitals and physicians.

Leading the effort will be Dr. Richard Goldberg, psychiatrist-in-chief at both Rhode Island Hospital and The Miriam Hospital, who in his new capacity as senior vice president for Physician Network Development is charged with developing a “comprehensive network strategy, aligning the three poles of health care – payers, patients and physicians,” according to Verrechia and Vecchione.

The goal is to create health care that is “more accountable in cost, quantity and outcome,” Lifespan’s leaders wrote, acknowledging that the current system is financially unsustainable and does not provide an affordable, coordinated health care delivery system. “Our current fee-for-service environment must shift its focus from volume to value,” they wrote.

One of the apparent changes may be the adoption of a Lifespan preferred network for its employees. “Our health insurance plan costs currently run about $120 million a year,” said Lou Sperling, vice president of human resources at Rhode Island Hospital, “with an increase in costs trending at about 8 percent, or $10 million a year.” According to Sperling, there has been an ongoing discussion about how to have employees utilize the health insurance plan more effectively and intelligently control costs.

As part of the new, four-year contract ratified on July 1 between United Nurses & Allied Professionals, representing some 2,200 nurses and health care workers, and Rhode Island Hospital, a “preferred” health care network was established to encourage union employees to use Lifespan facilities whenever possible, according to Rick Brooks, a union spokesman.

Moving forward, Lifespan has decided to focus on clinical excellence, teaching and research. Toward that end, the research component of Lifespan’s operation was made more transparent than in its past annual reports, detailing the more than $80 million in research grants received in 2010, a 14 percent increase form 2009, and nearly 1,000 employees who work in the research division.

In 2010, Lifepan had 12,378 employees, generated $1.6 billion in operating revenue, and a net income of $38 million.

It recorded 57,632 patient discharges, 232,702 emergency department visits, 312,902 outpatient visits, 24,054 outpatient surgeries and 15,892 inpatient surgeries in 2010, reflecting the increasing trend in Rhode Island that hospital outpatient services generated 55 percent of revenues statewide.


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