Alegent Health Influences National Health Reform Debate
Release Date: 07/11/2009
Media Contact: Jodi Hoatson
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Alegent Health Influences National Health Reform Debate

OMAHA, Neb. – Highlighting its continued leadership as a nationally-known health system, Alegent Health today hosted U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at Lakeside Hospital. As one of the most digitally-advanced hospitals in the world, Lakeside is leading Alegent’s integration of health information technology across its nine acute care hospitals, 44 clinics and other sites of service. Secretary Sebelius’ visit to Omaha is part of the Obama Administration’s effort to highlight centers of excellence as it continues to promote national healthcare reform.

As a faith based, not for profit health system, Alegent Health’s aggressive adoption of Health IT is the cornerstone of its efforts to deliver high quality, low cost patient care. In 2008, Alegent Health was recognized as the best quality healthcare system in the country by the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement.

"Secretary Sebelius’ visit is a validation that Alegent Health’s commitment to increasing quality and reforming the delivery of care has placed us among the country’s elite health systems,” said Wayne Sensor, president and CEO of Alegent Health. “Our continued innovation and the commitment of our staff to excellence is the reason why we are helping to inform those who are leading national healthcare reform.”

In the course of today’s visit, Alegent’s leadership took Secretary Sebelius on a tour of Lakeside Hospital to demonstrate how Health IT is applied to patient care. In the course of her hour and a half at the hospital, Secretary Sebelius met with staff and patients who provided vivid examples of the use of electronic medical records, remote monitoring technology to support patients in rural locations and how inpatient care and emergency records are shared across electronic platforms.

“The widespread application of Health IT across Alegent’s system has allowed us to make tremendous strides in delivering consistently high quality care,” said Mark Kestner, M.D., chief medical officer at Alegent Health. “Our adoption of evidence based medicine and the ability to develop care protocols based on the latest scientific literature and studies is a direct result of the investment we have made in technology.”

“The more elected officials can develop policies that encourage providers to pursue similar uses of technologies, the more our nation will make dramatic strides in reforming health care,” added Dr. Kestner.

As the national healthcare reform continues to develop, Alegent Health has taken an increasingly active role in meeting with policymakers in Washington, D.C. to share the success and challenges of its transformation into a world-class health system. Throughout the meeting with Secretary Sebelius and through other meetings, Alegent has promoted its belief that healthcare providers must lead the revolution to high quality, low cost health care and that consumers must become more engaged in their own health care if the country is to control healthcare costs.

“As a provider organization, we recognized that while we can make great strides in increasing quality and lowering costs, that consumers must be active participants in their health and they must be given the tools to make informed decisions,” said Sensor. “This includes healthcare benefits that promotes wellness and incentivizes people to make lifestyle changes and Web based tools that help people understand the cost and quality of the healthcare they receive.”

During the course of Secretary Sebelius’ visit, she was given a demonstration of Alegent’s revolutionary online cost estimator, My Cost by Alegent’s Chief Financial Officer, Scott Wooten. Unveiled 30 months ago, My Cost is a patent-pending tool that uses an individual’s insurance information to provide personally relevant cost estimates for more than 500 common medical procedures and tests. “Since we went live with My Cost more than 80,000 people have visited www.alegent.com to learn what their healthcare costs,” said Wooten.
“Each and every Alegent Health employee should be proud that the great work they do day in and day out is being recognized by leaders at the highest level of our country,” said Sensor.

Alegent Health Lakeside Hospital
Opened in August 2004, Alegent Health Lakeside Hospital is a 83-bed acute care facility - the only full-service hospital for the 150,000 households living in West Omaha. Dubbed one of the world’s most technologically-integrated hospitals, Lakeside was recently designated as a Magnet facility. This fall Alegent Health Lakeside Hospital will nearly double its size with the opening of a new patient-care tower.

About Alegent Health
Alegent Health is the largest not-for-profit, faith-based healthcare system in Nebraska and southwestern Iowa with 10 hospitals, more than 100 sites of service, over 1,300 physicians on its medical staff and 9,000 employees. Alegent Health is ranked first in the country in quality and patient satisfaction according to the Network for Regional healthcare Improvement (NRHI). That exceptional commitment to providing patient focused care for the body, mind and spirit of every person keeps Alegent Health faithful to its Mission, which was inspired by its sponsors, Catholic Health Initiatives and Immanuel Health Systems. At Alegent Health, patients and their families find a continuum of care, from women's and children's services, primary care, wellness counseling, and senior care to cardiovascular services, orthopaedics, oncology, physical rehabilitation and behavioral health. Alegent Health is online at www.alegent.com.