SALT LAKE CITY — Intermountain Healthcare CEO Dr. Marc Harrison said Monday that a restructuring affecting administrative positions in the hospital system is coming out of a desire to "disrupt ourselves" and that "nothing is already decided" regarding the possibility of other changes.
"Nothing was broken. Our mandate from back in 1975 was to be a model health care system, and I think for 2017 we are, but what we looked at — the question is — 'As we sit in 2017, would that make us a model for 2020 or 2022?' And we didn’t think so," Harrison told the Deseret News and KSL editorial boards.
Last month, Intermountain Healthcare announced it was moving away from its existing reporting structure centered around central, north, south and southwest regions. Intermountain spokesman Daron Cowley confirmed at the time that the jobs of some employees — "all in administrative positions" — would be eliminated and said those affected would have an opportunity to apply for other jobs within the hospital system. The change takes effect Friday.
Harrison was asked at the editorial meeting Monday whether there would be any further reorganization that could impact additional, non-medical jobs such as information technology support.
"What we need to do as a team is look at all options to provide the best value, so the highest value for the lowest cost every time that gives you what you need. So we will look at any number of options for any given area, and some of them will be best served internally, and some of them may not be," Harrison replied. "Our responsibility to the community, to all the people we serve, is to have things be excellent but also affordable. And so, we'll see. There’s nothing that is already decided in terms of those services."
In a message sent to employees last month, Intermountain's executive leadership team said, "Our shared support services like communications, human resources, and finance … are among those functions that will be organized in a One Intermountain approach — bringing together the talents and best work of people across the enterprise in a more coordinated way."
Beginning Friday, all of Intermountain Healthcare will come under the Community Care Group, with an emphasis on prevention and primary care, or the Specialty Care Group, which accounts for the organization's inpatient care and specialist health providers. Harrison refers to the new structure as "One Intermountain."
Harrison said part of the reason for moving away from a regional reporting model was to ensure a consistent mode of operation, as well as patient and employee experience, throughout the hospital system.
"Particularly for clinicians who have worked in more than one part of the organization, they’ve been able to say there have been different approaches in different places. (And we're) really, really excited to get clinical consistency from place to place," Harrison said.
The CEO also characterized the changes within Intermountain as an effort "to disrupt ourselves … to make things more affordable," referring to the high cost of health care.
"I think the way that we’re doing (the restructuring), I hope it’s the most respectful way possible, (is) to get our very skillful people to now think about in each of those areas how we play as a whole system, not just as an individual hospital and not just as a region, but a whole team," Harrison said.
He later added, "We hope … regardless of where you are in the system, for any given condition, you get the same safety, quality, access, approach, consistency, as you would anywhere else."
Cowley last month declined to say exactly which positions at Intermountain, or how many, were set to be eliminated in order to "respect the privacy of individuals."
Harrison acknowledged some employee uneasiness since the changes were announced.26 comments on this story
"A lot of people like certainty, right? And I think any change can be disconcerting, so if we hear people asking questions, it's generally, 'Is my job on Thursday going to be the same on Friday?' For the vast vast majority of people, — you’re still a nurse, you're still a doctor — things really don’t change very much at all."
Intermountain Healthcare is the largest employer in Utah, according to data kept by the state Department of Workforce Services. It oversees 22 hospitals, 185 clinics and more than 39,000 workers.