Vital Signs
Though it's off to what some pundits have called a rocky start, the Obama administration still apparently has its eyes trained on healthcare reform in the near future. The stimulus bill that passed last month had some provisions in it pertaining to this corner of the economy, but no sweeping changes have been enacted or proposed in any definite form just yet.

Whatever the eventual outcome, several analysts have made clear recently that the healthcare industry, at least on the for-profit side, has its work cut out for it. At a recent program hosted by the Nashville Health Care Council, Raymond James analyst John Ransom put it succinctly, saying that for-profit healthcare has to again defend its model as a value-added option and counter the popular view that the for-profit world is a scam.

Despite the positive possibilities on the horizon when it comes to increased health coverage, for instance, this point stands as the new administration crafts policy and draws up spending plans. It wouldn't hurt to provide evidence that patients at for-profit facilities are in fact receiving a higher level of care.

Following up on this sentiment, another panelist at the Health Care Council program, Gary Lieberman of The Stanford Group, released a report about a week later highlighting recently released CMS data that shows for-profit hospitals lagging the national HCAHPS scores average.

While it's not hard to question the precision of data like HCAHPS, which are collected from a 10-question survey, this is not the best start.

For what it's worth, I'll agree 100 percent with Ransom: For-profit health care does need to restate its case to Washington to ensure that the coming shifts in the landscape do not move against it. Be it through new metrics or operational tweaks, the industry's work is truly laid out before it. Bring on the ideas.

Walker Duncan is a reporter for, a sister publication of the Medical News.