Company officials said the results point to investment in enhanced access to services, a focus on quality of care and reduction in the total cost of care for the region.
Officials said the company continued to focus on expense management, improvements in productivity and supply cost management while investing $259.4 million into the region’s labor force.
“Ballad Health was pleased the nation’s largest insurer, in partnership with Harvard University, recognized our efforts as one of four health systems making a difference in the move toward value-based care,” said Ballad Health Chairman and CEO Alan Levine. “Experts throughout the nation are beginning to see how Ballad Health is making a difference, despite the increased pressure on rural and non-urban hospitals.”
Levine pointed to a recent report by iVantage Health Analytics, which predicted 600 rural hospitals are vulnerable to closure on top of the more than 120 that have already closed.
“In our region, we continue to financially support several rural hospitals and move toward reopening a previously closed hospital,” Levine said. “Our model is built to preserve access, invest in new doctors and providers and serve our communities through regional services recognized by highly respected independent publications as among the best hospitals in Tennessee and Virginia. These steps are designed to help our health care system navigate the serious headwinds faced by non-urban and rural hospitals.”
Operating cash flow — also known as EBITDA — for Ballad Health remained relatively flat, generating $54.6 million compared to $54.7 million in the same quarter prior year.
Total EBITDA decreased to $60.6 million versus $72.8 million in the same quarter prior year, a 16.8% decrease. Adjusted for minority interest year over year, EBITDA grew 8%.
Capital and provider investment
During the quarter, Ballad Health invested $34 million into a variety of capital projects ranging from information technology infrastructure to diagnostic and treatment equipment.
Examples of investments included: transition to the Epic electronic health records system, expanded urgent care access, diagnostic and treatment equipment, replacement of beds and expansion of robotic services.
Additionally, during the first six months of the fiscal year, Ballad Health invested in the recruitment of 80 new providers in the region. Since the closing of the merger that created Ballad Health, 198 new providers have been recruited to the region — 93 physicians and 105 advanced practice providers.
Ballad officials said the company’s nursing turnover now ranks below the national average, thanks to a $100 million commitment in nursing retention and hiring. The health system also announced the addition of two new urgent care sites, one in Banner Elk, North Carolina, and one in Kingsport.
Ballad officials said the company saved taxpayers more than $54 million by being one of only 18 partners in the federal Medicare Shared Savings Program throughout the nation to achieve savings for Medicare in each year of the existence of the program. Ballad Health’s quality scores are at 94.4%, the highest in the history of the health system’s collaboration with Medicare.