GHS approves $2 billion budget

GREENVILLE, S.C. – The Greenville Health System Board of Trustees today unanimously passed a $2 billion operating revenue budget that will expand access to patient care, enhance quality and help create more than 500 additional jobs in the Upstate.

While the budget calls for a jobs increase, it does not call for a price increase. For the second straight year, room rates will remain unchanged.

“GHS is now a $2 billion organization, and this new budget is an investment in our vision to transform health care,” said Mike Riordan, GHS’ president and CEO.

“Integration and innovation are key to surviving and thriving in today’s rapidly changing healthcare environment. Thanks to managers, physicians and staff, who continue to work together to balance the future and strategic priorities of our health system with the current needs of the organization, GHS is well positioned to meet the healthcare needs of our communities,” said Riordan.

Despite the economy and shifting healthcare environment, Fiscal Year 2014 has been a positive year financially for GHS, said GHS Chief Financial Officer Terri Newsom. She said the strong performance was primarily due to financial discipline across the system, enabling GHS’ ability to achieve financial goals.

“While these accomplishments are impressive, we still face challenges ahead and must proceed conservatively and continue to monitor spending,” she said.

As in previous years, the budget process benefited from the input and involvement of GHS’ clinical chairs, campus presidents and chief nursing officer, who weighed strategic system priorities and helped make tough decisions about a wide range of issues, including capital investments, staffing levels and improved integration of services.

GHS will continue to invest in clinical integration development and expand its physician network and primary care access. Most of its new hires will be nurses, physicians and mid-level providers, as well as other clinical and support staff. Once Oconee employees are onboarded this week, GHS will have approximately 12,927 full-time equivalency positions. 

 

The new budget also provides for approximately $108 million for new capital projects and routine equipment. Examples of the multi-year projects include the $21 million continued investment in information systems for an expanded hospital radio-frequency identification tracking system, document management system upgrades and encrypted computers and mobile devices for physicians to interact with patients’ electronic medical records. New projects also include a $13.9 million family medicine expansion in Simpsonville and a $6.5 million surgery pre-assessment center, which will consolidate multiple pre-assessment centers in to a single location.

Previously approved capital projects total approximately $98 million in FY 2015 and include many long-term projects. The largest is Epic, GHS’ future electronic medical record and revenue cycle system that’s expected to significantly enhance clinician workflow and patient experience. The total capital outlay to implement Epic is $97.2 million over five years, with $41.7 million of that expected to be paid in FY 2015. Other previously approved projects include the renovation of intensive care units at Greenville Memorial Hospital; infrastructure upgrades for Marshall I. Pickens Hospital; renovation of the surgery family waiting room at Greenville Memorial Hospital; the nurse call system across the organization and replacement of linear accelerators within the Cancer Institute.

GHS also worked hard to cut costs while still improving efficiencies. In FY 2014, GHS initiated a system-wide cost restructuring effect to position GHS as the healthcare value leader in the Upstate. The process, which is still on-going, has already yielded $23.2 million in savings.

“Health care is a key driver in economic development. In order to attract new businesses to the Upstate we are looking at innovative methods to reduce the cost of care to our community and create new business opportunities,” Riordan said.

Healthcare reform, meanwhile, continues to impact GHS and other healthcare providers. Cuts to Medicare reimbursement due to Affordable Care Act regulations and sequestration will result in a reduction of $13.9 million for GHS in the new fiscal year. Later years of the reform program may include expansion of Medicaid eligibility, Medicare reimbursement reductions, reductions in inpatient and outpatient rates and further cuts to both Medicare and Medicaid Disproportionate Share payments. The impact of not expanding Medicaid in S.C. is still unknown, as is the full impact of the health insurance exchange.

GHS – like other healthcare systems nationwide – also continues to deal with the costs of charity care and bad debt. A reflection of the overall economy, charity and bad debt are budgeted at approximately $524 million in FY 2015, an increase of 14.1% over the FY 2014 projection. The addition of the Oconee Memorial Medical Campus as of October 1 contributed $43.9 million of the increase over the projection.

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