What They’re Watching: Mary McWilliams, Virginia Mason

Mary McWilliams is a board member at Virginia Mason. She joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss Centers of Excellence.

“The big news at Virginia Mason is we’re having a baby! Actually, we hope to have a lot of babies in partnership with CHI Franciscan Health. Because of their expertise in this area, we’re going to be opening an OB unit which is great news for families and for Virginia Mason.

We continue to work with the Health Care Authority, and our contract for our network is up for renewal, and we started now offering bundles. So the state is having bundles for knees, and that’s something that we’ve really excelled in.

And then speaking of knees, we’re a Center of Excellence for Walmart. And not only are we kind of a source for specialized surgery, but we found that in a lot of cases the patients don’t need surgery and we’re able to send them back with other modalities to try…It is a challenge financially, but you know our CEO and the organization as a whole really believes in the importance of having high-value care and doing the right thing for the patient. And I could imagine for the patients who thought they came here to have to have surgery, to be able to go home with an alternative would be reassuring. So, I think we hope too that there could be more employers like that, that would do something so we might make up in volume what we use lose on an individual case basis.

DJ’s comment about things moving very slowly and then accelerating, I would hope that will happen with respect to some of these new payment arrangements and Centers of Excellence so that those entities like ours are really committed and taking the hit for deferring certain things that would otherwise be revenue, that ultimately patients and purchasers will see this is where you want to be treated because this is where we try to do the right thing appropriately.”