Moving into 2013 on solid financial footing

March 8, 2013 Kevin Brown


2012 was both a challenging year for Swedish, and one of the strongest in our 102-year history. I now refer to it as our second most important year ever, with the first being our founding.

This year was challenging because at this time last year we were losing significant amounts of money. We started our 2012 fiscal year projected to absorb a $90 million operating loss. Instead, we ended the year with a $39.9 million positive operating margin – resources we invest directly back into Swedish to support the care and services we provide our patients and communities. That is a $130 million momentum swing that was achieved through the hard work and focus of every Swedish employee; each played a part in making the necessary and significant changes that put Swedish back on solid financial footing.

There were many difficult decisions made in 2012 that resulted in Swedish becoming a more efficient organization. Changes were needed to reduce costs, gain efficiency, improve process and invest in future growth.

That included reducing our staffing by approximately 8 percent, reducing our supply spend dramatically, and making major strides to improve what we call our revenue cycle (making sure we’re getting paid on time, and accurately, for the care and services we provide).

Through all of these changes, our focus on the safety and quality of our care – the benchmarks that Swedish is known for throughout the Northwest and across the country – never wavered. We continued to receive national and regional industry recognition for the safety and quality of care across our five campuses.

And we never lost our focus on the communities we serve. As a non-profit, community-based health system, we provided more than $126 million (actual cost) of community benefits in 2012, ensuring that care and services are available to anyone. In each of the past five years, Swedish has committed at least $100 million toward community health-care benefits and charity care. That is what our founder, Dr. Nils Johanson, intended Swedish to be when he created this hospital more than a century ago. That is who we are.

Amidst these changes, Swedish also formed an affiliation with Providence Health & Services. While we remain Swedish, an independent brand and employer, we are now part of the larger Providence family, which has been a significant source of value and stability for us. We have used the term “better together” inside our organizations, and it’s true.

The affiliation now positions us as the leading network of care in Western Washington. When large employers are looking for comprehensive, trusted provider partners, they can now look to the integrated Providence-Swedish organization to provide safe, quality care at a lower cost.

The hard work completed in 2012 has positioned Swedish for stability and growth in the coming years. We know that every health-care provider nationwide will be reimbursed less and less for the services they provide. We will need to continue to find the most efficient ways possible to deliver on the Swedish promise of safe, quality care. What we focus on every day is being the best stewards of our resources to ensure that Swedish is here to serve the needs of our region for the next 100 years.

I couldn’t be more confident in our ability to fulfill this promise at Swedish. We look forward to helping every person in our region get well, be well and stay well in 2013.

Ed. note: Valerie Bauman of the Puget Sound Business Journal further details our 2012 successes in a recent article found here, and KING5 also recently highlighted Swedish's work.


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