The Constant of Change


Building what comes next at HCM


The one constant in health care, as with every business in our community, is change. Change can be incremental and ongoing, challenging businesses every day to perform better than the day before.

And, change can be transformational, driven by broad industry trends, competitive forces and rising customer expectations that require Hill Country Memorial to perform not only better but differently to succeed.

Today, Hill Country Memorial, like all of health care, is confronting the need for both incremental as well as transformational change. It is not easy because the forces driving change are coming from all directions. They are forcing us to rethink our assumptions for how we best serve the immediate and long-term interests of the hospital and be good stewards for this remarkable community asset.

I am optimistic about our plan and the ability of the innovative, independent people of HCM to work together to address the rapid pace of change in health care. That optimism does not ignore the realities that the challenges we face are many and, taken together, daunting.

They include:

• Rising customer service expectations for greater choice, control and convenience;

• The continuing shift of care away from overnight hospital stays to ambulatory sites;

• Growing out-of-pocket costs for consumers, who need more certainty about price;

• Employer expectations that we reduce operating costs to limit increased health plan costs;

• Rising competition from regional systems that are taking cases out of our market.

My confidence in our ability to manage these challenges starts with the honest, direct manner with which our team has approached them. There is no advantage to be gained from ignoring the need for change or delaying our response. Change does not wait for businesses to get ready to respond!

My optimism is driven, as well, by the reality that these changes have not taken us by surprise. We have been anticipating and planning for growing consumerism and the imperative to reduce cost. Our teams have invested years in building the critical components of success: a vision that unites people around a higher cause, a comprehensive plan, relentless implementation, and talented people working together.

HCM will emerge from this period of change in a stronger position to better serve our mission. We have tough decisions to make for sure. Change done right is never easy because it forces us to rethink our assumptions and to innovate to find new ways to better serve patients and families.

I am confident in our ability to respond because we invested the time to listen through a series of customer focus groups earlier this summer. Those focus groups were specifically devoted to knowing what matters most to people when choosing a hospital or doctor, and what changes we might make to better deliver service experiences, access and affordable care to our communities.

Among the positive changes that people will see coming from HCM in the months ahead are:

• Focused effort to give patients greater choice and control when seeking treatment for minor illnesses as we ramp up our convenient care offerings;

• Enhanced access to affordable care as we continue to look for ways to reduce operating costs and align pricing to the realities of growing customer out-of-pocket expenses;

• More care management resources as we work to help people navigate across episodes of care and find local solutions to their care needs.

Those who call the Hill Country home are self-reliant individuals and families who share a sense of social responsibility to contribute to the betterment of our region. We know that what comes next for HCM must address their preferences for greater choice, control and convenience, as well confidence that we are being good stewards of both the hospital’s resources and their family budgets.

If we stay focused on serving those needs and preferences, I am confident that Hill Country Memorial will navigate this period of intensive industry change just fine.

We have a vision for enhanced care that can unite the community. Our board and leadership have built a plan and we are working relentlessly to implement it. Most importantly, we have talented people working together to see that plan through.

Change is hard. Failure to anticipate and respond to the need for change is even harder. Like every business in this community, HCM must constantly improve our performance and stay focused on the long-term goal of delivering distinctive, remarkable service experiences.

I am optimistic about our progress and confident that together, as a community, we will succeed.


Jayne E. Pope, MBA, RN, FACHE, is the CEO of Hill Country Memorial.