After spending a large amount for a much-needed assessment of the public hospital, it was learned that the experts' report and recommendations are not being followed and were outright ignored.
Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. CEO Juan N. Babauta and COO Esther Muña admitted this to the board Friday, saying the action was taken at the instruction of board chair Joaquin Torres.
“You came to my office and instructed me not to follow the recommendations of HealthTech,” Muña told the chairman last Friday after the latter asked how far the management is doing in implementing the experts' recommendations, particularly in the area of revenue cycle management.
Torres denied giving any such instruction. “You must be dreaming,” Torres told Muña, who quickly countered, “No, I am not.”
Upon learning that the report is being ignored, board vice chair Pete Dela Cruz said it was “silly” for the management to put the study on a shelf and allow it to collect dust.
The Office of the Governor commissioned the HealthTech assessment early last year to find ways to improve the healthcare system in the Commonwealth. The study cost about $150,000 and was funded by the Office of Insular Affairs.
On Friday, corporation board member Roy Rios stressed the need to follow the study's recommendations.
“In the beginning, we're all crying because we need an expert and finally we got HealthTech, but we don't want to listen to the expert's report! Are we lost here? We have to decide. HealthTech is nationally recognized so why can't we follow and go through with what is relevant in their report?” said a visibly disappointed Rios.
In the absence of a strategic plan for the hospital, “at least we have this HealthTech report that we can use as a guide,” Rios added.
Babauta said if the board wishes it so, he is amenable to implementing the HealthTech report's recommendations. However, he pointed out that there are “good and not so good” recommendations in the report, some of which were also countered by the team of medical experts from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that is currently on a 90-day mission at the hospital.
Babauta cited as an example the opposing recommendations of HealthTech and the USHHS team regarding the revenue cycle management administrator. HealthTech, he said, recommends contracting out the position to a professional as opposed to USHHS' suggestion to train an in-house personnel for the job.
According to Dr. Sharlene Osman, director for Medical Affairs, there's a need to go through the report and its recommendations. She volunteered to become part of a special review committee that will do the job.
Right away, Torres created a review committee and appointed Osman to chair the panel.
The HealthTech report had suggested bringing in a new turnaround management team that will operate the hospital for six months. This recommendation was opposed by CHCC, fearing it could lead to the hospital's privatization.
The Fitial administration, through press secretary Angel A. Demapan, earlier said that the HealthTech report and its recommendations is something that the administration cannot outright ignore despite the progress being made by the corporation.