During a meeting of the health system’s board, officials said revenues had improved from a nearly $4 million loss in the first three months to a $4.7 million surplus.
“We’ve made considerable progress in the last three months,” said Dennis Roemer, the interim senior vice president of finance and chief financial officer. Outpatient volumes and the mix of payers have improved, among other things, he said.
“We’ve had a number of things moving in the right direction,” he said.
But the health system is still not seeing the level of referrals of complex, specialty cases it would like to see from other areas, said Georgia Health Sciences University President Ricardo Azziz, who chairs the health system board.
Looking at data from 2009, more than 15,000 Georgians chose to seek complex care outside their home areas, possibly in Atlanta but also outside the state, including more than 750 from Augusta, he said. Augusta needs to begin capturing some of this “out-migration” of complex care patients and “create a true health care destination” that could include other Augusta providers, Azziz said.
Part of that is the health system’s fault, said David Hefner, the executive vice president for clinical affairs at GHSU.
“We’re not the easiest to use,” he said, but officials are working on making it less difficult for physicians to refer patients there.
Part of it will be trying to change historic referrals patterns for complex care in other places, such as Athens, Ga., where 80 percent go to Atlanta, Azziz said.
Augusta needs to work more closely with the state’s military troops and their dependents, said health system board and Board of Regents member Larry R. Ellis, a retired four-star general.
That is a “huge population” that the health system could tap, he said.
Azziz said the health system has been trying to work more closely with Fort Gordon and Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center.
“We’re primed to move to the next level,” he said.