University Hospital Celebrates Success Amid Industry Challenges

September 12, 2018|

University Hospital has been active in Augusta for 200 years, and Jim Davis, president and CEO of University Health Care System, thinks that’s due to a successful evolution over two centuries of medical advancements.

“Augusta is very blessed to have the healthcare that they have here in Augusta,” Davis said at the Augusta Metro Chamber Economic Luncheon on Wednesday. “You’ve got a lot of great providers here.”

Davis pointed out that healthcare in Augusta has a comparatively low cost and has been rated favorably in various publications. U.S. News and World Report ranked University Hospital the 6th best hospital in Georgia this year, while Becker’s Hospital Review ranked it 15th nationwide in customer loyalty this year.

University Healthcare System includes University Hospital downtown, University Hospital Summerville, and University Hospital McDuffie in Thomson, Ga.

While healthcare spending has continued to rise, Davis said that University Healthcare “has managed to keep it pretty low” in Augusta.

“I think that’s a ticket that we have not pushed enough when we’re recruiting businesses to Augusta, Ga.,” Davis said.

Davis also spoke at length about the difficulties faced by a $3.3 trillion healthcare industry that spends more money than any other in the world.

“We have not made, as an industry, a Medicare margin since 2002,” Davis said.

As baby boomers get older, the longterm survivability of Medicare has become a looming question mark, Davis said. Around 10,000 people join Medicare every day.

This year, the World Health Organization ranked the U.S. 37th in its most recent ranking of the world’s health systems.

“I will tell you, our raw materials aren’t as good as some other countries,” Davis said. “So you might think about that. We lead the world in opioid addictions, we lead the world in obesity, all that kind of stuff. That all adds up in health care costs.”

Davis said 22 percent of hospitals in America are “upside down on an operating margin,” meaning a recession could spell trouble for many of them.

“The big issue for us is as an industry, we just cost too darn much,” Davis said. “And you won’t hear many guys say that in my position…what we have to figure out is how to create scale to reduce cost.”

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