Anna Hartman, For The Miami Student

As Butler County has grown to offer its residents an array of hospitals and medical care facilities, there is increasing competition for patients.

Oxford’s McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital (MHMH) has witnessed the patients’ recently-acquired ability to be selective in choosing health facilities, according to Bryan Hehemann, chief executive officer and president of MHMH. Hehemann has seen in the most dramatic scenario a 9 to 10 percent decrease in certain areas of outpatient services. These services include imaging, radiology, outpatient endoscopy, rehabilitation, therapy, sports medicine and maternity delivery.

Hehemann attributes the health system decisions of prospective patients largely to financial considerations.

“The more responsible (consumers) are for their out-of-pocket costs, co-pays and deductibles, the more sensitive they are to pricing,” Hehemann said. “Our staff is more aware of what the consumers’ behaviors are and is trying to make sure that we’re providing the best care and the best price that we can.”

MHMH, in efforts to reduce spending while simultaneously increasing marketability to medical consumers, is making an estimated $1.1 million annual cut to its budget. The hospital is also reviewing its strategic plan, which was last edited in 2009.

“We’re going to review our strategic plan right now to make sure we’re doing everything we possibly can to attract more business,” Hehemann said.

Specifics of the revisions are not yet available.

“We’re basically stopping and taking a fresh new look at (the plan) given all the changes in the marketplace, including the fact that Kettering Health has partnered with and basically bought Fort Hamilton Hospital,” Hehemann said.

Fort Hamilton Hospital, which is within 12 miles of MHMH, voted Feb. 11 to become the seventh member of the Kettering Health Network, meaning all involved health systems may merge their resources and health care services.

Hehemann acknowledges a necessity to remain a competitive health care facility.

“We have to be just as clued in to what’s appealing to the general public about surrounding area hospital services as much as (the public) has to consider what (the hospital) is offering,” Hehemann said.

Miami University sophomore Morgan Ricketts considered the location and personal conveniences of a health care venue when selecting the facility at which to receive her weekly allergy shots.

Ricketts was not able to begin her shots during the 2009-10 school year, as was recommended by her doctor, because her schedule did not allow her to travel to MHMH and Miami Student Health Services (SHS) was not able to administer the shots. Currently, Ricketts receives allergy shots at MHMH and acknowledges the accessibility factors that are crucial when determining health care.

“The hours are kind of limited, so if something were closer, that would be good because the hours might be better for me,” Ricketts said.

Sophomore Kara Rosine also has experienced the ability to shop around for a health system that is most convenient to her needs when she needed her ankle examined for a potential break and visited MHMH, as it was the closest hospital that was open during the weekend.

“I knew that (Student Health Services) was closed on weekends, so I didn’t bother,” Rosine said. “Proximity and convenience have everything to do with (the decision of what hospital to visit).”

Hehemann recognizes a need for health systems to balance revenues and expenses like any other business, even in the midst of increasing health service competition in the county. If patient numbers drop significantly and sufficient revenue over expenses are not generated, the hospital could be in a dangerous situation.

“You’re doomed,” Hehemann said. “You’re unable to expand programs, to invest back into your facilities, technologies, equipment and to stay competitive with salaries and wages.”

Hehemann does, however, find business competition amongst Butler County hospitals a positive element for both the consumer and the health service provider.

“I think competition is good for the consumer and makes us more acutely aware of what the service needs and what people are looking for,” Hehemann said.