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September 10, 2014

ThedaCare Sheds Light on Future of Healthcare Oshkosh

ThedaCare leaders are committed to bringing the future of healthcare to light, meeting today with business and community leaders to discuss changes in healthcare at the 2014 Oshkosh Community Conversation.

Healthcare Leaders Meet with Oshkosh Business, Community Leaders for Annual Community Conversation

ThedaCare leaders are committed to bringing the future of healthcare to light, meeting today with business and community leaders to discuss changes in healthcare at the 2014 Oshkosh Community Conversation.

Held at the Oshkosh Convention Center, the annual event is an opportunity for ThedaCare leaders to share information about the past year as well as look ahead to coming changes while listening to concerns and answering questions. This year’s discussion focused on consumerism, team-based healthcare, and the shift in emphasis from treating sick people to keeping people healthy. ThedaCare CEO and President Dean Gruner, MD, said staying informed on healthcare issues is challenging since there are so many changes.

“We want to shed a light on what’s happening now and what it all means. Everyone is feeling these changes whether it’s from legislation or shifts in insurance coverage,” Dr. Gruner said. “Many of these changes are hitting patients right in the wallet – everyone needs to be smarter than ever when it comes to their healthcare.”

Dr. Gruner said one way patients can be smarter is by making healthier choices, whether it’s exercising more, quitting smoking, eating healthier or making sure they’re taking care of a chronic condition.

“When you look at a person’s health, some of it is genetic, but a lot is tied to the lifestyle choices someone makes. An estimated 70 percent of healthcare costs are related to lifestyle choices,” he said. “For example, being overweight can lead to a number of health conditions, such as heart problems and diabetes. ThedaCare’s mission is to help our communities be healthier and we’re focusing on helping people make healthier choices in their daily lives.”

Weight of the Fox Valley, a three-county initiative to build a community that achieves and maintains a healthy weight at every age, is one example of ThedaCare’s community involvement. Diane Abraham, president and chief executive officer of the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation, said ThedaCare’s involvement underscores the healthcare provider’s commitment to the communities it serves.

“It’s wonderful how ThedaCare and other healthcare providers are coming together through Weight of the Fox Valley to draw attention to the epidemic of obesity and work to help everyone be healthier and enjoy a better quality of life,” Abraham said. “Weight of the Fox Valley is just one example of how ThedaCare goes beyond its doors to help everyone in the community be healthier.”

Consumerism was another theme of this morning’s event, with people having greater decision-making power than ever before over their insurance coverages and where to seek care, Dr. Gruner said

“Americans now are becoming consumers in healthcare. Employers are letting workers decide what insurance plan to choose, what doctor to see while at the same time other people are out there on the exchanges making those same decisions,” he said. “Americans are paying more for their health needs. At ThedaCare, we are doing our best to be as transparent as possible with our pricing and working closely with insurance companies to help patients get the best care for their money.”

One way ThedaCare is helping patients get the most for their healthcare dollars is its new team-based care model the health system will be piloting in a couple of its primary care clinics. Patients will have their needs met by not just a single doctor, but rather a team of healthcare professionals including nurses, pharmacists, care coordinators, behavioral health specialists and others. Boundaries, such as the walls of the clinic, will get eliminated, too. For example the care coordinator will set up a tablet computer at the home of a patient, who can have face-to-face conversations with her care team, and upload vital information, such as blood sugar levels.

“It’s very flexible and will work around a patient and her needs,” said Andrew Collins, MD, a pediatrician at ThedaCare Physicians-Oshkosh. “Using technology, such as our electronic medical records, everyone working with a patient is kept informed and we tailor the care for each patient. It’s not just about seeing a medical doctor, but all the other people who work together to improve a patient’s health.”

Team-based care is especially helpful when patients have multiple health concerns, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and behavioral health concerns, Dr. Collins said. “Some patients have a lot going on and a team-based approach is best. We need someone – usually a care coordinator – in place to ensure that all of the patient’s needs are being met,” he said. “It’s all about doing what’s right for the patient.”

The only community- and locally owned healthcare provider in the Fox Cities and Oshkosh, ThedaCare is active in the communities it serves. From building two community gardens in New London and a prescription take-back program in Waupaca to the Eat Smart initiative for Fox Cities restaurants and a campaign to curb binge drinking in Shawano, ThedaCare works with local leaders to address local health concerns.

“It all comes back to our mission of building healthier communities,” Dr. Gruner said. “There are some issues, such as obesity which are a concern in all of our communities, but there are other issues that are more local, which is why we have our Community Health Action Teams (CHAT) in place to dive into local issues and develop solutions.” 

ThedaCare also gives back to the communities it serves by providing $40,204,848 in unreimbursed services, including unreimbursed medical care, health professional education, and community benefit activities, to local communities in 2013.

In the coming weeks, ThedaCare will hold additional community conversations for the areas of the Fox Cities, Ripon/Berlin, New London, Shawano, Wild Rose and Waupaca.

Anyone wishing to receive a print copy of today’s report can contact Paula Morgen, community health manager for ThedaCare, at (920) 830-5848 or

ThedaCare™ is a community health system consisting of seven hospitals: Appleton Medical Center, Theda Clark Medical Center, ThedaCare Medical Center-New London, Shawano Medical Center, Riverside Medical Center in Waupaca, Community Memorial Hospital in Berlin, and Wild Rose Memorial Hospital. ThedaCare also includes ThedaCare Physicians, ThedaCare Behavioral Health, and ThedaCare At Home. ThedaCare is one of the largest employers in Northeast Wisconsin with more than 6,175 employees. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.