5 Things Michigan: Hospital financial health, Tim Pletcher, Workforce challenges


Emily Boerger


We are at a tricky place in America right now vis-a-vis COVID. For the first time since January, more people are pessimistic about the future of the disease than are optimistic, according to new polling from Gallup.

Moreover, 1 in 3 vaccinated individuals are “somewhat” or “very worried” about contracting the virus. Statistically, they have about a 0.1% chance of that happening. So, thanks for hyping this, media. Hope that was worth it.

Of unvaccinated individuals, 20% are “somewhat” or “very worried” about getting the disease. Perhaps 80% of unvaccinated folks are a bit over-confident. But, for the 1 in 5 that are worried about it, getting a vaccine will help alleviate your concerns. If you’re not yet vaccinated, I can tell you this: it does wonders for your mental health. If you’re unvaccinated and worried about it, getting a shot will help.





With help from Emily Boerger

1. Q&A: Tim Pletcher, MiHIN

Dr. Tim Pletcher is the executive director of the Michigan Health Information Network Shared Services (MiHIN). In this Q&A, Pletcher discusses data fragmentation in the health care system, the Active Care Relationship Service, and building a patient-centric record of care.

Pletcher says it’s important to look at the social determinants of health, care coordinators, program eligibility, and individual choices about care to build a map of all the ways a patient is connected to the health care system. “Nobody really understands all the pieces touching the patient. Fragmentation in health care in the United States is just a killer. You don’t know what you don’t know.”


2. MHA update on hospital financial health

Despite facing difficult financial stressors due to COVID, Chris Mitchell, executive vice president of advocacy and public affairs at the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, says not a single hospital in the state was forced to close during the pandemic. In this conversation, Mitchell offers an update on hospitals’ financial health, worker burnout, and mental health supports for staff.

Mitchell says non-emergent patient volumes have increased in recent months, though most hospitals are not operating at their pre-pandemic levels. He says workforce shortages and demands for additional staff have gone down, but notes that he is “keenly aware that there is a distinct potential for things to surge out again, and we could be right back where we were previously.”


3. Video: Dave Schneider, HMA

Dave Schneider is a managing principal of Health Management Associates. In this video, Schneider provides an update on the efforts to integrate physical and behavioral health in Michigan, and the progress made thus far.

Schneider says the integration efforts put in place through 2017 budget language were paused due to COVID, but he offers details on the two new legislative proposals that have popped up since then. One is Sen. Mike Shirkey’s “Gearing Towards Integration” proposal; the other is Rep. Mary Whiteford’s push to create a single, statewide administrative services organization. The corresponding bills for these plans have been referred to committee.


4. The intersection of equity and workforce

Melanie Brim, president and CEO of the Michigan Health Council, says health equity issues intersect with Michigan’s health workforce challenges in several key ways. One intersection is the lack of diversity in the health care workforce – an issue the council is looking to address through youth outreach efforts that attract students of color to health professions.

This outreach, she says, serves the purpose of attracting kids to these professions to support the future workforce, and also focuses on schools in underserved communities to increase diversity. “Then the other [intersection] is just the whole impact that implicit bias and unconscious bias has in how providers treat patients.” Brim says MHC supports the governor’s effort to require licensed health professionals to take continuing education in implicit bias.

5. Michigan moves into “substantial” rate of COVID transmission

The latest data from the CDC shows Michigan has moved into a “substantial” rate of COVID transmission with 56.7 cases/100,000 individuals in the past 7 days. Last week, transmission in the state was considered “moderate” while 48 other states/jurisdictions were labeled as substantial or high transmission. Broken down by county, data shows 7 Michigan counties – Branch, Huron, Iosco, Alpena, Montmorency, Kalkaska, and Charlevoix – at the highest rate of transmission.

Michigan has seen a 166% increase in COVID cases over the past two weeks, and the percent positive tests (5.8%) has been increasing for five weeks. Michigan currently ranks in the middle of states in terms of vaccination rates with 59.5% of those aged 18+ fully vaccinated.