Retail giant Walmart has named Ochsner Health System their 12th Center of Excellence for Joint Replacements. In a press release, the organizations indicate that “Walmart chooses Centers of Excellence locations through a selective process, which requires hospitals to demonstrate an ability to provide excellent care, a dedication to addressing the root-cause of a patient’s condition and an outstanding patient experience.” Walmart offers their employees various incentives to receive their care at a designated Center of Excellence. The Walmart/Ochsner arrangement expands on an existing health insurance plan available to approximately 6,600 Walmart and Sam’s Club employees in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, LA which utilizes Ochsner Health Network’s physicians, hospitals and care providers to improve care and reduce costs.
EHC NOTE: Multi-faceted partnerships involving insurance components and incentive for directed specialty care between large corporations and specific health systems hold obvious allure for both parties. Reduced cost for volume, the experience which comes with that volume and consistency in intraoperative and postoperative process and protocol should yield strong outcomes at a more manageable cost. The question for other facilities competing with such centers of excellence is how do they level the playing field? In our experience, facilities of almost any size can compete in specific specialties in their local markets by focusing efforts on a certain set of procedures and devoting resources to optimize cost, quality and outcomes. All stakeholders involved in the procedures must be integrated, and current protocols must be used – such as the perioperative surgical home, minimally invasive surgical techniques when appropriate, advanced pain control techniques and concepts of ERAS. Create partnerships with local businesses or payers using your track record as a key differentiator. While you may not be able to partner with the largest employer in the country, smaller, local partnerships can be profitable for facilities and beneficial to your communities.