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Bloomington Herald-Times

April 19, 2013

IU Health Bloomington Hospital plans to cut jobs
Hospital official: 'I can't tell you what that number might be, but we think it will be minimal'
By Dann Denny

April 19, 2013, last update: 4/18 @ 11:43 pm

IU Health Bloomington Hospital plans to cut jobs in the coming months, but officials will not yet say how many.

The losses will accompany consolidation of IU Health's information technology system, may be accomplished partly by attrition, and are part of an effort to keep costs down in light of recent health care reform measures, according to a hospital spokesman.

"We are trying to get a handle on our costs based on the health care landscape, one in which the reimbursement model is changing," said Steve Deckard, the hospital's vice president of human resources, referring to the Affordable Care Act, which calls for $716 billion in Medicare cuts, much coming from payments to doctors and hospitals. Additionally, a 2 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors and hospitals went into effect April 1.

"The IU Health system, as well as our entire industry, is trying to figure out how to make health care cost less so we can continue providing high-quality health care to the community," Deckard said.

Deckard said the IU Health System is involved in an ongoing process that will lead to the conversion of all hospital information technology systems in the IU system to a single IT system by early to mid-2015. He said the conversion will make it easier for the hospitals to gain access to patient information and lab reports.

The framers of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, sometimes called Obamacare, anticipate that the Medicare cuts to providers will be offset by payments from insurance companies for medical services to the roughly 30 million newly insured Americans who will be required to buy health insurance when the law goes into effect Jan. 1. Additional new revenue also would come from the expansion of Medicaid, which may or may not happen in Indiana.

Deckard said once the system conversion has been completed, he anticipates there will be some job consolidation -- perhaps in support areas such as accounting, payroll and IT -- in which job positions would be transferred to Indianapolis.

"It won't be the same for all support areas," he said. "We will do an analysis in each area to determine the number of people we need to provide services in that area. Those analyses have not been completed, but it appears that in some areas we may need fewer folks by the time we get to the end of the system conversion in 2015."

Deckard emphasized that he did not anticipate any job losses at the hospital in the near future, other than through attrition. He said it is too early to estimate how many jobs might be lost two years from now.

"I can't tell you what that number might be, but we think it will be minimal," he said. "Because the system changes will not be completed until early to mid-2015, a lot can happen between now and then. Some people will decide to leave, for example, but I can't predict how many. But if this affects just one person, that would be too many."

Hospital spokeswoman Amanda Roach said she could not estimate the number of support area jobs the hospital has at this time.

Deckard said in the near future the hospital's IT and financial services managers will be reporting to IU Health leaders in Indianapolis rather than Bloomington Hospital's administration.

"It's easier to standardize processes and policies and protocols if the reporting tree includes Indianapolis more directly than it has in the past," he said. "By having a common reporting relationship rather than having one that involves multiple leaders who are separated geographically, it helps everyone in the system get on the same page."

Deckard said IU Health Bloomington Hospital is participating in an ongoing, systemwide effort to establish the same procedures, protocols and standards at all IU Health hospitals

"By standardizing procedures, protocols and systems, we will be able to provide the same level of care, regardless of where within the system it is provided," he said. "The level of care may not be to the same degree, but if you're talking about primary care, for example, we want patients to get the same level of primary care at Bloomington Hospital as they would at any other hospital within the system."