Boston-Caliber Critical Care, Close to Home

April 02, 2019

Three years ago, if a patient came to Lawrence General in need of complex critical care, they were twice as likely to be transferred to a Boston hospital as they are today. The reasons for this impressive turnaround are many, but all relate back to the hospital’s ongoing strategic efforts to keep care local and more affordable.

“Over the past several years, we have renovated our Intensive Care Unit, introduced a new 24-hour physician-led care model, and significantly enhanced the flow of care for critically ill patients using interdisciplinary teams to reduce delays in real time,” says Lawrence General vice president of Quality and chief medical officer Ziad Alfarah, MD. “These are just a few of the steps we have taken that enable us to care for more complex patients who need a higher level of critical care.”

These steps have also led to an increase in the hospital’s Case Mix Index (CMI), a number that reflects the growing acuity of our patients. The sicker the patients a hospital can manage, the higher the CMI. In 2018, Lawrence General had an average Medicare CMI of 1.41, which is an impressive improvement from 1.28 in 2014. This new reality at Lawrence General positions the hospital among the top medical centers in the state.

Additionally, keeping care local significantly benefits patient care. Patients receive the same high-quality care as they would in Boston, while families can be supportive of their loved one without the expense and inconvenience of traveling into the city. Care at Lawrence General is often more personalized and less expensive than care in Boston.

It’s a win-win for our patients and the hospital. Hospitals with a higher CMI receive better rates of reimbursement overall from both government and commercial insurances, because payors acknowledge the added expense of maintaining the enhanced level of expertise and technology needed for sicker patients.

“We have great news for our Merrimack Valley neighbors -- our strategy is succeeding and we are delivering on our mission to keep care local and closer to home,” adds Ziad. “Cutting the transfer rate to Boston in half is an impressive accomplishment that we should all be proud of. Congratulations to all those who are working so hard to keep care local and provide sophisticated, high-quality care to our patients right here at Lawrence General.”