10:10 Economy: Healthcare

Rockford Health Systems CEO Gary Kaatz says he's seeing a lot of unexpected trends develop in local Healthcare right now, like a pike in surgery and doctor visits, but a drop in foot traffic in the emergency room. Hospital officals are monitoring these trends on a daily basis. Theu're looking at ways to improve patient care, and make treatment more affordable. Kaatz says healthcare will have a different face when we come out of these tough times. He says, in the form of fewer local hospitals and a shortage of physicians. But he expects overal patient care to improve, and sees stronger relationships between patients and doctors. One of the biggest obstacles hospitals are facing is educationg patients on the importance of their long term physical health, over their financial health.

"If your going to save 20 bucks by avoiding a visit or encounter now but your going to become sicker and go through our emergency room, be admitted 6 months later and there might be something that could have been diagnosed 6 months ago that is more complex. You can't even begin to compare those costs and scenarios, so we need to get beyond what the immediate financial cost is and look at the entire financial economic and social costs of delaying treatment. It could be staggering."

Kaatz says there are a lot of opportunities for growth efficiency in healthcare, especially during challenging times.

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