The Class of 2017 profiles the women and men who joined the AHA board this year.

 

The shift from fee-for-service, volume-based payment toward a more integrated, value-based payment world is coming, and it’s the AHA’s job to help its diverse membership ride that wave of change, says AHA board member Tom Huebner.

“The current cost trends in health care are not sustainable,” says Huebner, who is president and CEO of Rutland (Vt.) Regional Medical Center and Rutland Regional Health Service. “The key to changing that trend is to get behind payment reform and population health management.”

He says the AHA needs to “strongly represent the field to various proponents of change and to make sure the changes are realistic and our needs are taken into account.” At the same time, he says the association has to “help our members prepare for change. To make sure they are thinking through the consequences of what is likely to happen.”

Huebner joined the AHA board on Jan. 1, but has served for the past six years on the association’s Regional Policy Board (RPB) 1. He is chairman of the RPB, which includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

He brings to the AHA board a sharp focus on behavioral health issues. At the upcoming 2015 AHA Annual Membership Meeting in Washington, D.C., Huebner will moderate a May 4 executive briefing on “Behavioral Health Care – Health Systems and Hospitals Partnering With Their Communities.”

 “I’ve been a strong proponent of integration of behavioral health services into what we do – especially in a population health world that makes even more of a difference than it did before,” he says. “If we are to achieve our goals we have to recognize that mental illness and substance abuse issues are going to be intrinsically connected to our success.”

With the help of a state grant, Rutland Regional Medical Center in November 2013 opened a dedicated opiate treatment facility in downtown Rutland that treats 400 patients a day. Huebner says it is an example of how his hospital – and other hospitals across the country – are changing how they view themselves.

“We’re no longer responsible just for fixing people once they’ve been broken,” he says. “We have a responsibility for sustaining and improving the health of our community.”

Huebner says Rutland Regional Medical Center’s solid financial footing will help as it moves closer to value-based payment and accountable care structures. “If we were living day to day, we could not afford to be on the front edge of that process,” he says.

Huebner has been president of the medical center since 1997. He joined the organization in 1990 as vice president responsible for systems development and planning. Before that, he served as executive vice president of Choate-Symmes Health Services, Inc. in Woburn, Mass.

“I told my family I’d be here [Rutland Regional Medical Center] for three or four years,” he recalls. “Twenty-five years later I’m still here. It’s been a good, long journey. We have stable management, a stable medical staff that has gotten better and better over the years. A great board … a very supportive community. Wonderful stuff.”   

Hear what Huebner has to say about “redefining the ‘H.’” Listen in here.