Al Pilong, President of Munson Medical Center in Traverse City

Al Pilong, President of Munson Medical Center in Traverse City first settled into his position last April. Most recently serving as president of Winchester Medical Center, a 445-bed hospital in Winchester, Virginia, he also served as senior vice president of Valley Health System. Pilong has a master’s in business administration, a master’s in divinity and a bachelor’s in pharmacy, the specialty in which he began his career in the health industry.

With everybody focused on evolving health care regulations and insurance, can you give us a broad brush look at what that means for Munson Medical Center in Traverse City?

At its core, hospitals across the country are being challenged to provide higher quality health care with lower reimbursement. Over a 10-year period, Munson is looking at in the neighborhood of $150 million in reimbursement cuts. For us that means looking at overall operational performance, figuring ways to deliver health care more efficiently and reducing waste in the system.

What is one of the central strategies in working toward that goal of more? efficient care?

From the time a patient comes in the door, we want to have a tightly coordinated care plan for that patient. We want all the clinical disciplines communicating on a daily basis, with updates and feedback on care. So we have done things like multidisciplinary rounding on a daily basis. That could involve nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers, physicians, whoever is on the team. The goal is to make sure patients are taken care of safely and efficiently and are not in the hospital longer than they need to be.

We keep hearing that in the new world of health care, hospitals will be held responsible for the health of their surrounding communities. What does that look like?

Yes, clearly health care is transitioning the focus away from acute care to overall management of the health of the population. Patients will see a difference not just with Munson, but also with their primary care physician. They’ll have more of an ongoing relationship with Munson and their doctors, not just interacting in a crisis situation. There will be more following up on discharge instructions, making sure patients are compliant with the instructions, keeping up with their prescriptions.

What do you see on Munson Medical Center’s horizon that has you particularly excited?

I’m very excited about the cancer program here. We are in the process of designing a new cancer center, which is going to funded to a significant degree by the community through philanthropic contributions. We have raised close to $16 million of our $17 million campaign. This is a very generous and supportive community and coming from the outside, and seeing that support, has been very impressive to me. We expect to open the doors in 2016.

What are the bullet points on your to-do list for the coming year?

We have focused on four things. Build on the legacy of quality, driving a culture of safe care delivered every time. Invest in our people, making this a great place to work. Partner effectively with physicians, supporting the practice of medicine. Focus on continuous improvement—always get better in order to be a sustainable place in the face of the challenging impact that health care reform will bring.

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