Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
Moving Toward Our Vision

Moving Toward Our Vision

CEO Minute: Brent Magers

TTP Hallway

We moved into 2018, and I hope you are off to a good start. Time does seem to fly. As we look at this new calendar year, which is approximately one third of the way through the fiscal year, it is good to do a spot check on key indicators. Overall collections for the practice are favorable through the end of December; we collected $24,730,545, which is an increase of 3.6 percent over the prior year at this time. Charges are up 8.06 percent, our Days in AR are steady, and we are at or close to goal on several other financial metrics. From a patient satisfaction standpoint, since September, we are at the 60th percentile rank. This represents modest improvement. Visits, by the way, also are up compared to the previous year.

Outside of Texas Tech Physicians, there are many things happening in the world of health care. One thing I noticed (and it’s not surprising) is prices for new drugs for cancer and other diseases continue to increase at a rapid clip. Some are approaching the $1 million threshold. An example is a drug called Spinrasa for spinal muscular atrophy. It costs $750,000 for the first year of treatment. Another example is from Spark Therapeutics Inc., which is charging $850,000 a patient for new treatment for a hereditary form of vision loss. Imagine, we are approaching $1 million for a drug treatment for one patient. This is hard to comprehend, and it will be interesting to see how various payors respond.  Other news from the pharmaceutical industry is that Pfizer Inc. said it would stop attempts to discover new drugs for Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. This is after spending millions of dollars that produced disappointing results in treating Alzheimer’s disease.

News is not limited to just drugs. Medical researchers increasingly turn to mobile devices such as smartphones and watches as a way to monitor patients in clinical trials. This approach is believed to improve participation and accuracy.

Noteworthy is that around 4.7 million people signed up for health insurance coverage for 2018 through the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, some fewer than prior years, but more then predicted.  Of course, we will watch the demise of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate and the elimination of its accompanying tax penalty starting in 2019. Experts predicate that without it, anywhere from 3 million to 13 million fewer Americans will have health coverage a decade from now.

CVS and Aetna have a new deal that bears watching. The combination of the two companies is a deal valued at $69 billion. It is supposed to bring together Aenta’s patient data and CVS’s network of nearly 10,000 brick-and-mortar sites to reduce costs while improving care and convenience.

And finally, as I write this we have the possibility of a federal government shut-down.  This will probably pass and shouldn’t effect Medicare or Medicaid payments to us – unless, it goes on for a long period and that seems doubtful.

2018 is interesting both from a local level as well as a national level. Have a great week!