Name: Eric Pianalto
Hospital: President Mercy Hospital, Rogers
Education: Master’s of Business Administration
First job in health care: Clinic administrator
What do you think is the biggest issue facing the health care industry in Arkansas today?
We have seen escalating health care costs that have reached a critical juncture. Payment models will have to change to reward quality and healthy outcomes as opposed to payments per service. This will be a difficult transition, but it is imperative to improve overall health while controlling the escalation of cost.
What are some of the most significant financial challenges facing hospitals today?
Hospitals are very asset heavy organizations. The buildings are very expensive to build and maintain. The tools are technology driven, expensive, and have very short life cycles. Workforce is in short supply, which adds significant cost to retain and grow. In most industries, these types of escalating costs would be passed on to consumers, but in health care the revenue per service is flat to declining. That will continue to place great strain on the economics of providing medical care.
How do you share information and protect data at the same time?
Why is cybersecurity so critical? An individual’s health record is both essential to exceptional care and a very personal record that should never be improperly shared in the public domain. Health care organizations have worked collaboratively with the government to ensure that individuals’ health information is protected, while allowing appropriate sharing between health entities to assure that information is available to provide great care. While regulations can be a burden, in this instance, they are essential to protecting our patients’ most vulnerable information, and we in the industry take this very seriously.
What new health technologies are you most impressed with?
I am most impressed and intrigued by how Artificial Intelligence (AI) can assist in the delivery of care. AI can use disparate pieces of information to alert caregivers that there is a high potential for a negative change in a patient’s condition. With AI, we have been able to save lives and prevent conditions far beyond what we could have dreamed even five years ago. I look forward to the continued embracing of this technology to assist with predicting a condition long before the patient or the human technician could detect a problem.
How do elections impact the health care industry?
There are always risks to how the payment structure may change or how the regulatory environment may change in positive and negative ways. With health care being both a real financial concern for many and a hot political topic, the industry is always at risk of major shifts through election cycles. Any drastic change to the economic or regulatory environment can cause dramatic shifts in available services in the communities where we all depend on the healthcare infrastructure when we most need it.