Health Care: Intensified competition, construction

Northern Colorado health care practices are bracing for many changes as they move into the new year and are preparing for even greater shifts coming in 2014.

The Affordable Care Act means changes for every kind of provider, from specialists who own their own clinics to those employed by the region’s biggest health care systems. Many of the act’s more seismic provisions will begin taking effect in 2014, turning 2013 into a planning year.

“Many of the changes you’ll see with Banner Health in Northern Colorado will be in anticipation of what we believe is happening in health care nationwide,” said Marilyn Schock, CEO of McKee Medical Center in Loveland.

Primarily, providers will be changing their focus from “volume-based care,” to “value-based care,” because of a change in the way hospitals are paid for their services.

That means it will be in the hospital’s best interests to keep patients well rather than allowing them to be repeatedly readmitted.

“We know that more of our reimbursement will be tied to outcomes and performance and the ability of payers to pay more for care that is delivered will be increasingly strained,” said George Hayes, CEO of Medical Center of the Rockies, also in Loveland.

Northern Colorado is also home to many independent physicians who are also preparing for change, complete with their own struggles that come as a result of remaining independent.

“There is a niche for private practice here,” said Mary Dreiling, practice administrator for Pediatric Associates of Northern Colorado. “But it is sometimes harder to make it in private practices. Expenses are high. It’s like any other small business in that regard.”

Still, Dreiling remains optimistic about 2013.

“Everybody is excited and a little bit nervous for the changes that are coming,” she said. “Time will tell. We’re waiting to see what happens.”

One large physical change is in the works in Fort Collins: Banner has announced plans for a new hospital in South Fort Collins, with plans to break ground in 2015.

More immediately, Kaiser Permanente, which established a physical presence in the market this past fall, will be opening its third clinic in the region in the year ahead, a site in Greeley.

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Molly Armbrister covers real estate, banking and health care for the Northern Colorado Business Report. She can be reached at 970-232-3139, or

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