Aurora's role as a not-for-profit organization
Aurora Health Care is designated a not-for-profit organization because we provide health care to the public – which the federal government considers an "essential community service" – and we re-invest all of our net income in the communities we serve, rather than distributing it to individual owners or shareholders.
Our not-for-profit status brings with it certain benefits, as well as some accompanying challenges and responsibilities.
The key benefits are:
- Our exemption from most income and sales taxes and some property taxes
- Our ability to be a recipient of philanthropic donations and government grants
The primary challenge is the difficulty of raising adequate capital to fund infrastructure and keep pace with technological advancements since we can't accept private investments or sell shares of stock. And the heaviest responsibility is bearing the cost of continually improving not only the quality of care for individual patients, but also access to care for the elderly, the poor and the uninsured.
Our focus is long term
Because Aurora is a not-for-profit provider, we strive to maximize the long-term societal benefits of our activities and services. This means that we focus on prevention and treatment. We reach outside the walls of our facilities, rather than waiting for people to find their way in. We continually strive to find new ways to keep people healthy and ways to return them to health more quickly after injury or illness.
We care about not only the health of individuals but also the health status of the population as a whole, using our Care Management initiatives to save our communities more than $25.8 million in avoided medical expense in 2005. We are the state's largest provider of charity care providing more than $25 million in community outreach and free preventive services. Finally, because our communities are counting on us, we feel an obligation to look ahead, preparing ourselves, our programs and our facilities to meet the health care needs of tomorrow.
A complex balancing act
These challenges and responsibilities combine to make the delivery of health care services a complex and delicate balancing act.
This means investing resources in developing information systems that will put patient records at physicians' fingertips to help them improve clinical outcomes. It means directing the energies of hundreds of caregivers into finding and applying best practices to reduce the human and financial burden of illness. It means working with high schools and colleges to prepare more young people for careers in health care, to alleviate personnel shortages that otherwise will cripple our services in the decades ahead.
This future orientation also means investing in clinical research and being on the forefront of applying new medical knowledge to the prevention and treatment of disease. It means achieving a size that allows us to benefit from economies of scale, and expanding our services so that we may provide people with the right care in the right place at the right time. And it calls for investing in the renovation and construction of facilities for tomorrow, even in the face of criticism that these investments contribute to today's health care cost burden.
In short, being a not-for-profit health care organization means we strive to do what's in the long-term best interest of the people we serve, just as a doctor would for a patient. Our goal cannot be popularity or even freedom from controversy. It has to be community well-being.
Business objectives support community benefit
As a not-for-profit health care provider, Aurora has one overriding goal – providing community benefit. We set a variety of business objectives to meet that goal. These objectives fall into 2 broad categories: finding better ways to work, and creating better value to offer our patients, caregivers and communities. As we identify and achieve our specific objectives in these areas, we succeed in generating the margin we need to fulfill our mission.
By achieving annual business objectives such as these, we strive to always generate enough of a margin to accomplish our not-for-profit mission. At the same time, we keep moving closer to fulfilling our vision of providing people with better access, better service and better results than they can get anywhere else. Working together, the people of Aurora are continually finding better ways to provide health care. And so we come full circle from mission to margin, and back again to the reason we exist - to improve the well-being of the communities we serve.