Allina's new name focuses on health, not hospitals

  • Article by: JACKIE CROSBY
  • Star Tribune
  • February 7, 2012 - 10:30 PM

Allina Hospitals and Clinics is changing its name to reflect a new mission that shifts the emphasis away from places we go when we're sick and onto disease prevention and personal vitality.

The new moniker -- Allina Health -- has been discussed internally with employees for several months, and now it's quietly rolling out to the public.

"We're never going to build another hospital," Allina CEO Ken Paulus stated unequivocally as he spoke to a packed house at the University of Minnesota's McNamara Alumni Center on Tuesday.

With the iconic blue 'H' symbol for hospital glowing large on an overhead screen, Paulus said, "Let the 'H' stand for health."

While not every health system is going so far as Allina to institute a name change and launch a rebranding effort, health care providers big and small are adjusting to reform laws begun in Minnesota in 2008 and on the federal level by President Obama in 2010.

In the coming years, health care providers will be paid more on how effective they are at helping patients avoid costly hospital stays and emergency room visits, rather than the number of treatments they give.

The focus will shift to preventing chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, that can be helped with lifestyle choices such as exercise and diet. Patients will take more responsibility for their health and for paying for care.

"We're on life support," Paulus said. "Like it or not, [reform] is here to stay."

To support its renewed mission as a "health" organization, Paulus said Minneapolis-based Allina will launch a number of initiatives in the next one to two years, including looking for ways to deliver more health care at home and adding more people to help patients with everything from scheduling office visits to answering questions.

While about 10 percent of cancer patients have such a coordinator now, Paulus pledged that every cancer patient will have a health navigator by year's end.

The company also is rolling out a "health score" assessment that is similar to a credit score that quantifies a person's financial risk. The health score will help identify risk of certain diseases.

Allina is starting with employees but plans to expand the concept to about 15 rural communities to provide both an individual as well as communitywide score.

Allina is the state's biggest hospital system, operating 11 hospitals, nearly 90 clinics and care centers, and 15 pharmacy sites.

It got its name about a decade ago, when Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch split Allina Health System into two companies, forming Medica, the insurance company, and Allina Hospitals and Clinics.

"Allina Health. This is what we stand for now," Paulus said. "Yes, we're a great set of hospitals and clinics. But that's not enough. ... We need our team to think bigger."

Jackie Crosby • 612-673-7335

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