Tag Archives: tufts

Tufts nursing impasse: I’m quoted in the Boston Globe

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Who “wins” in a strike?

The first nursing strike in Boston in three decades is an ugly situation. I feel badly about it, especially for patients and their families who are collateral damage. Even if the quality of care is the same with the replacement nurses, the extra stress and aggravation really are a problem.

I’m quoted on the dispute in today’s front page Boston Globe story (At Tufts Medical Center, pressure to cut costs in a city rich with hospitals). I’m not directly involved with Tufts management or nursing leadership, so I commented on the overall environment in which its occurring.

“I think the root cause is that Tufts has to compete with the other academic medical centers in the city, and they don’t get the same level of reimbursement,” said David E. Williams, a consultant at Health Business Group in Boston. “The disparities of the payments actually cause friction in the labor market.”

The story of unequal payments to Boston area hospitals is not a new one, and people have heard about it so often that they’ve tended to zone out. But this is the first time I can think of that labor relations have taken a public hit as a result, so perhaps it will reinvigorate the debate.

Meanwhile, few of the articles about the strike provide broader context about where nurses fit in to hospital finances. A couple of statistics are worth mentioning:

  • A 2015 study published in the Journal of Nursing Administration (Hospital Nursing Workforce Costs, Wages, Occupational Mix, and Resource Utilizationconcluded that nursing labor accounts for just over 30 percent of total hospital costs. That means nursing costs are central to hospital finances and it explains why Tufts isn’t just giving in in the face of the strike.
  • Nurses in Boston earn six-figure incomes. According to Tufts, its senior nurses (which represent 60 percent of the total staff) “earned an average of $152,000 in 2016.” That’s comparable to what some primary care physicians make.

I hope the dispute is resolved soon, so that the nurses and the rest of the Tufts team can get on with the job of caring for patients. If the strike ends up stimulating a serious debate about inequities in hospital reimbursement, that will be its only silver lining.

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

Hallmark and Tufts combine: I’m quoted

From the Boston Globe:

The parent company of Tufts Medical Center plans to expand its hospital network with the addition of Hallmark Health System, a merger that will help both sides compete in a market dominated by bigger institutions…

“Both of these systems were undersized to be able to compete effectively, so it’s a good matchup from that standpoint,” said David E. Williams, president of the Boston-based consultancy Health Business Group. “It’s unlikely that there will be any serious regulatory opposition to this. If anything, I think the regulators will look favorably on this. I think it will help create more competition with Partners than if these companies just stayed on their own.”

This seems like a pretty good outcome for the institutions involved and for the healthcare market in Eastern Massachusetts.

I’m just back from vacation and look forwarding to jumping back into the blog!

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.