Judy Rich talks with KOLD about her hopes for Arizona Connected Care

“We believe that we’re going to change the world.”

That was the prediction of Tucson Medical Center’s President and CEO Judy Rich when she sat down with KOLD’s veteran reporter Barbara Grijalva this week to talk about the new network of health care providers known as Arizona Connected Care.

The federal government just this week approved Arizona Connected Care as the first accountable care organization in Southern Arizona. Authorized under the 2010 federal health care reform act and comprised of more than 200 providers, the entity has a goal of providing measurable improvements in health care while helping to control the skyrocketing costs of health care.

If the organization can save on Medicare costs while hitting stringent quality goals, Arizona Connected Care will share in a portion of that savings. Tucson Medical Center is the only hospital participating in Arizona Connected Care.

Typically, Rich noted, there is sometimes a thread missing for patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes or heart disease, when patients are left on their own between hospital and doctor’s visits. But the patient may have a better outcome if there is more emphasis in between those visits on making sure that patient is getting the appropriate medications and lining up visits with their primary care physicians.

It’s not just about prevention, Rich said. “Sooner or later, people will end up in the hospital or needing surgery or needing health care and we can’t always prevent that,” Rich said. “But you can coordinate their care better. And a real key to this is making sure we don’t lose people in the cracks.”

Grijalva noted there is some incongruity in the fact TMC is participating in a model in which the goal is to help chronically ill patients stay healthier.

After all, Grijalva noted, TMC is in the hospital business.

“That’s the part of this that is so incredibly wonderful and scary,” Rich responded. “We are in the hospital business. If we didn’t believe the future of Medicare and healthcare in the United States is at risk, we wouldn’t have any motivation to do this.”

“If we filled our beds at Tucson Medical Center, that’s typically been a good thing,” Rich said. But ultimately, TMC, as a community hospital, is responsible for the health of the people who live in this community, she added.

“We believe this is the first step in changing health care and making it sustainable for our country,” Rich explained. “We know that there’s an imperative to change and this is the vehicle we’ve chosen.”

Grijalva also interviewed Dr. Jeffrey Selwyn, chairman of the board of Arizona Connected Care.

See more from KOLD’s report here:


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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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