Archive for the ‘Hospitals’ category

$500 Billion From Where?

October 26th, 2010

In a recent conversation with a long time healthcare CEO, he made the following observation:

“There are about 2,750 pages to Obamacare.  I have no idea what the implications are of the first 2,700 pages, but I do know that at least 50 pages allude to the fact that $500B will be cut from hospital reimbursements in order to support the new legislation, and it’s also clear that these monies will be cut based upon quality.  Pay-for-performance will be the new catch phrase of the reimbursement world, and our peers are not ready for this stark reality.”

How does one move from a non-transparent system to one that allows anyone to log onto healthcare websites and search every detail relating to the success rates, scores, and capabilities of any given institution?  One very obvious “missing element” in hospital-related problems is the lack of dedication to getting to the “root cause” of most issues.  We are great at work arounds, but rarely take the time, energy, and have the cultural commitment to dig deeply enough to literally stop the root cause of the problem.  Is that why there are a reported 98,000 people killed by our facilities, and about an equal number injured each year?


Several organizations have attempted to take on these issues, but few have gone beyond scratching the surface of the real problems.  As bundled payments become the norm, a commitment to getting the highest available reimbursement for procedures will take on a new meaning.  Imagine a great doctor in an under-performing medical center where his or her work is not rewarded equally to a peer in a stronger hospital, because that bundled reimbursement was lowered due to institutional medical imperfections. Charles Kenney in  The Best Practice, and Steven Spear in The High-Velocity Edge have both addressed some of the nuances of this new culture, this new world order, but for hospital administrators, physicians, and staff to “get their arms around it,”  there will need to be transformational shifts in the fundamental culture of the organization.

Leadership will be forced to accept personal responsibility for virtually everything that occurs in an organization.  Employees will need to be empowered to embrace shared values, and key targets such as patient and employee safety will need to be identified so that goals can be set that stop nothing short of a level of complete PERFECTION.

The healthcare establishment will also need to embrace transparency within their organizations, and that information must be shared with everyone.  Most importantly, it must include the human element.  What is the human impact of each and every error or mistake?  This point alone will represent a major cultural shift in the way we do business.

Truman's phrase "The Buck Stops Here" - F. Nicholas Jacobs, FACHE

Employees, physicians, and administrators will need to actually be taught to see risk, and be provided with data upon which actions may be taken.  Most importantly, however, problem solving must be encouraged and supported at every level of the organization.

How is this all possible?  I was recently on a speaking tour to several hospitals, and the bottom line at these facilities was that their leadership was “new age.”  They had worked diligently to decrease the hierarchy and to reduce and reorganize the roles of those in operations in order to support the fastest possible improvements.

The tsunami is coming, however slowly it may appear to be; it is approaching our healthcare shores, and quality – no, perfection, is the only means left for achieving success or, in many cases, is the only way to survive.  We must discipline ourselves to see problems and not simply try to work around them.  We must establish a problem solving culture.  We must set our goals and empower all of the players to do what is needed to solve these problems once and forever.  Harry Truman’s phrase, “The Buck Stops Here,” should become every CEO’s mantra, and the journey will finally begin, the journey to solve the myriad repeating problems in our current system.

Nick Jacobs, FACHE - HealingHospitals.com

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The Obligation is Real

September 21st, 2010

On Saturday night a group of people will gather at a restaurant  for a celebration of life since graduation from high school. I won’t be there. Neither will Joe, Butch, Tommy and half a dozen others,  but their absence is for a very different reason: they have passed away. I, on the other hand, will just be passing. So, why not go this year?

Nick Jacobs, FACHE at the beach with his grandchildrenWell, it’s a kid thing. You see, part of my birthday present to each of my kids was an overnight stay at a resort with their spouses, and, low and behold, there is no one to watch three of the grandkids and the brand new chocolate lab; no one, that is, but me. Why would I sacrifice the opportunity to hang with my old buddies for the chance to change diapers, mop up housebreaking accidents, and argue over bathing and bedtime issues?  Why?  Because it was part of the commitment, that kid commitment.  They will be my kids until either I die or they do, and with that come certain obligations that are real.

Why bother you with all of this personal blog stuff?  It’s about obligations.

The other day, a bright young man met with me at lunch to ask me questions about the American Healthcare System. Interestingly enough, I don’t believe that  my answers were what he had expected. You see, we have certain beliefs about our rights to generate, earn, and receive money in this country. What is missing, however, is a realistic reward system that aligns the appropriate reimbursements with the actual needs of the country. When he asked me how many hospitals would invest in purchasing his product, one that might help to eliminate hospital infections, my response was “Not many.”

You see, with obligatory bottom line orientations, many of the hospital CEO’s and CFO’s are not anxious to spend money on a  product that might work.  More importantly, with a lack of transparency, the public exposure that most organizations have relative to this infection problem is still somewhat limited.  It was easy to explain that if “St. Elsewhere” was exposed for having a 24% infection rate, not unlike a five star hotel having bed bugs, you can darn well bet that something would be done and done quickly, but the issue is not so pressing when it is under the basket.

Over the last few years, I have lost some wonderful friends who have had fantastic surgeries at highly respected hospitals.  These surgeries would have been impossible to have in a “normal” hospital, but, having said that, two of them died and one lingered near death for two years due to the infections they acquired there.

If this was widely publicized public knowledge, might he be able to sell more product?  The question was rhetorical and the answer is absolutely, positively, yes. So, back to obligations. Why is it that we must be exposed in order to become aggressive about serious problems in our systems?  The answer is simple: It costs money, and resource allocation is the number one challenge of most hospitals.  Hence my point about our financial incentives.  If we were reimbursed, rewarded and paid, not in an unconnected, cottage industry manner, our treatment regimes and protocols would change.  If we knew that it would be our financial responsibility to amputate limbs for advanced diabetes, would we be more eager to spend money on wellness initiatives?

Truthfully, it’s our obligation, and, as our fellow human beings suffer, we are currently seeing a movement toward political groups intent upon repealing reform measures. That is a backward view of an already complex challenge. It is our obligation to help our fellow man. “Do unto others …or pray you don’t lose your health insurance.”

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What’s Wrong With This Picture?

September 9th, 2010

American Healthcare Magazine - September 6, 2010 - Nick Jacobs, FACHE - HealingHospitals.comThe Modern Healthcare edition of September 6, 2010 has a cover headline that reads: “Passing the Buck,” and the descriptor goes on to explain that “Yet a new report says workers’ share of benefit costs is skyrocketing.”  The actual opening line of the article starts with “Workers are shouldering more of the costs of health coverage than ever before amid stagnant wages and a weak economy”…

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Patient Advocacy, a subject about which I am passionate. So, this blog is about patient and employee advocacy that also provides additional resources for hospitals to help them address the current economic challenges.

Every year when we looked at our medical insurance costs at my hospital, a politically incorrect friend would jokingly suggest that we begin an annual, required participation August Tennis Tournament for our high-utilization employees, but only after the temperatures reached at least 95 degrees.  “It would be a thinning of the herd,” he would jokingly say with an elf-like smile on his face.  We would then get serious and dig into a long list of creative ideas aimed at helping contain these costs so that we would not have to lower benefits or pass the charges on to the employees.

Included in these lists were some rather simple ideas such as offering, in a structured manner, the wellness options covered under our health insurance umbrella and generally rewarding our employees for taking better care of themselves.  We significantly reduced fees for the workout facility (1/3 of the regular cost ), provided personalized counseling from our dietitians, had a weight loss contest and gave rewards for taking classes on stress management, smoking cessation, diabetes control and exercise.

We offered psychological counseling for our employees who were suffering from stress related issues.  Our food service vendor, CURA, made sure that “no transfats” were a part of the hospital’s meals, that there were always low-fat vegetarian choices on every menu, that snacks were reasonable and that our vending machines had healthy choices. We also celebrated life and work on a regular basis.   We had cook-outs, off-stage break rooms, massage, aroma, Reiki, pet and music therapy.  We provided drum circles, non-denominational spiritual services and meditation classes; kick boxing, Pilates, pool therapy, and employee parties.

So, short of forced tennis matches, how else can we control these costs?  The following is a summary of a program that SunStone Consulting is currently offering with two other business partners, CBIZ and InforMed.

Over the past 6 years, the average annual health insurance cost increase for InforMed-supported patient advocacy programs has run at 4.5%, compared to the 10-12% trend for all employers.  In the case where a hospital with 1,500 employees is paying out about $10,000,000 a year for employee health insurance, a 5% savings over a three year period would generate $3.3 million in savings.  Let me repeat that:  By lowering those  premium increases by 5%, there would be over three million extra dollars available for hospital financial needs and co-pays and deductibles for the employees would not have to continue to escalate by 13 to 15% annually.

The Patient Advocate logo (California) - Nick Jacobs, FACHEThe care management “engagement” rate of all the major insurance companies is about 30%. That means that the insurance company-based “help programs” are about 1/3 effective in even reaching the employees.  This non-insurance company based program, however, has a 70% engagement rate of identified large claimants, more than double the insurance company’s rate, and with over 1 million employees in this program, they produce a 98% patient satisfaction rate.

By employing local, trained, patient advocacy nurses, paying physicians a monthly stipend out of the savings to help manage these patient/employees, and then helping those high utilization patients legitimately navigate through the nine to fifteen physicians with whom they interact on an annual basis, health systems are seeing tremendous savings.  (Kind of the Best of Managed Care scenario.)

These are clear, actionable items that will positively change a bottom line quickly and permanently without having to increase the financial burden on the employees.

Why not try it?  It works.

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And one more thing . . .

August 12th, 2010

These blog posts are supposed to be directed toward creating healing hospitals. That objective seems to be compromised from time to time as I post genuine opportunities for hospital CFO’s and CEO’s to trim monies from their budgets, to find money that their hospitals should have received, or to initiate new ventures that will create additional, positive economic yields for their facilities.  I’m sorry, but I just can’t help myself.

One of my “gifts” as a CEO was to always find ways to pay for the challenges that we faced so that new ideas, new modalities and  new healing techniques could be introduced to our healthcare environmentI even wrote a book about it. Interestingly, the biggest push back that I experience when presenting to my former peers is that bottom line, no nonsense question: “How the heck are we supposed to pay for this stuff?”

The Benefits of Healing Hospitals

View more presentations from Nick Jacobs.

Over the years I’ve prepared charts, graphs, and narratives demonstrating the dramatic growth patterns, the huge economic surpluses, the wonderful bottom lines that were generated by embracing a “healing” philosophy, but those of you who have been lured by “snake oil salesmen” in your past lives are very leary that my passionate dialogue is simply that, dialogue. You have  no  reason to believe me when I say that improving your employee morale will improve your patient satisfaction scores. Of course it’s common sense, but if you’re too nice to your employees, they’ll think you’re a push over and they’ll take advantage of you, right?  Well, after 22 years of niceness, the one thing I can tell you is that niceness can be confused with weakness, and that needs clarification early on in your journey.

You see, my recent devotion to the economics of healthcare was prompted by the knowledge that you will be treating much larger quantities of patients for less reimbursement. Consequently, new streams of funding will be imperative. For example, the annual amount of discretionary healthcare dollars spent on integrative and holistic medicine is well into the double-digit billions of dollars.  Logic would tell you that at least a percentage of these dollars could be spent at your facilities.  The downside is that your patients have not been used to paying cash for anything except co-pays, but the reality is that “they will pay,” if the service is meaningful, helpful, and healing; money simply becomes a way to get them there.

Wellness Wheel - Image credit: Marquette UniversityIf you, however, don’t believe that massage is good for you, don’t believe that some people respond well to acupuncture or Reiki, don’t care that aroma therapy, floral essences, or pet, music and humor therapy have a place in “legitimate medicine,” that’s a problem, a personal problem.  Go on vacation to some place like Canyon Ranch, and let go for a few days.  Allow yourself to be open to new modalities.  The body and mind can work extremely well together . . . if you’ll just give them a chance.  More importantly, you can generate additional funds for your facilities that will result in additional growth in market share, in patient loyalty, and in patient and employee  satisfaction.

So, this week’s tip . . . financial transaction services: Over 1/4 of your facilities daily financial transactions are completed electronically.  We are currently providing the interface for your financial transactions that will reduce your costs of doing electronic business exponentially.  It is seamless, requires no interruption of your current banking relationships, and invisible to the patients and your staff, but why, for example, would you pay 4.5% if you could complete the same transaction for 2.5%?  It’s savings that can contribute to your bottom line to allow you to supplement your staff with those individuals who can add additional depth, healing activities, and peace of mind to your patients’ experiences.

It’s all good.

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Could We Do It Better?

August 8th, 2010

Several months ago, I met a white-haired gentleman of average stature at a meeting.  When I asked him what he did, he replied, “I’m a patient advocate.”  “So am I,” I said. “I even wrote a book, Taking the Hell out of Healthcare’ about it.  “Yes,” he continues, “but I found a way to make a living from doing this.”  His name is Harry and he is an actuary.  In those yin and yang posters, that would put us at opposite ends of the proverbial left brain/right brain spheres.  He had analyzed health care records for about thirty years and could prove what we all know, that between 5 and 7% of our employees use up about 80% of our healthcare dollars. That, my friends, is not rocket science.   All you need to do is hang around some sick people for a while, and you’ll realize that “our system” is set up to keep doing things to them over and over again.  Usually, it’s not to help them eliminate the problem, but to maintain their life in a chronically challenged situation.

Ryan Is An Actuary.  Look It Up. Flickr photo credit: evaxebra - © all rights reserved

Flickr photo credit: evaxebra © all rights reserved

So, I asked Harry what he does, and he indicated that he hires nurses, pays doctors and employs “MANAGED CARE’S GREATEST HITS.”   Now every health insurance company in the world will claim the same thing, but everyone who has ever been turned down for anything by any health insurance company knows that: 1.) the bottom line reason was usually their bottom line, or: 2.) it’s a nurse against your doc, and your doc has not employed all of the verbal and intellectual tricks to convince him or her to allow you to have the test or take the drug that he thinks you need.

Harry went on to explain that these “5  percenters”  usually have anywhere from nine to fifteen docs with whom they interact on a yearly basis, and, not coincidentally, these physicians usually don’t do a great deal of interacting with each other, hence the need for patient advocates.  This is where Harry’s nurses come into the picture.  He assigns a nurse to each high-risk patient, allows the patient to pick their “favorite quarterback doc,” and then pays that physician to help hold down the duplication of unnecessary tests.  Makes sense, huh?  I can just hear my Internal Medicine physician saying, “Nick, you don’t need those 13 other chest x-rays this month, the first one will do fine for all of us.”

Interestingly enough, this system WORKS, and it works pretty darn well because it’s not about saving money for the insurance company;  it’s not about depriving the patient of needed tests;  it’s not about controlling the patient, or preventing him or her from having what they need, but it is about eliminating wholly unnecessary tests, meds, and procedures.  Harry had letter after letter from grateful patients, families, and employers thanking his people for helping them navigate their way through the maze of this very complex, sometimes-disconnected, procedure-oriented system.

The other interesting thing is that Harry likes to go to a town and start first with the hospitals, because their employees are the most comfortable with using everything, and have the easiest access to the most doctors.  It’s a great way to prove  the system works.  From that point on, he then works to bring all of the major employers into the fold, and ties them into the primary hospitals.  It’s something that only an actuary could have accomplished, because, as Harry readily states, “It’s taken me about 30 years to perfect this system.”  The patient is protected from being over-tested in an indiscriminate manner; the hospitals or businesses save a considerable amount of money, thus limiting reases in their annual healthcare costs, and the savings are cumulative over the years.  So, why not try something that will improve the employee morale, patient satisfaction, and quality?

If you are interested in learning more about this program, give me a call.

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Modern Healthcare’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t tell”

August 1st, 2010

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The July 19th edition of Modern Healthcare had a very revealing article by Melanie Evans entitled “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” The cut line under that title was “A third of physicians in a  study don’t feel obligated to report impaired [fellow] docs.”  Ms. Evans went on to describe the fact that the word impaired refers to drugs, alcohol or mental illness.  The study was from the Journal of the American Medical Association and it queried nearly 1,900 physicians.  Having been involved with the management of hospitals for over two decades, the results of this study shocked me.  Not because I didn’t believe it was possible; not because I didn’t believe there could be a problem but because it was clearly not my experience.  Yes, there were impaired physicians, administrators and staff members, but the programs available to them were comprehensive, thorough and unending.

If the question was posed, “Is there a problem with drugs, alcohol, and mental illness among physicians?,” my answer would have been  yes.  The same, however, is true of administrators, staff and employees.  None of those exposed to an environment that intersects with life and death issues on a daily basis and that requires the incredibly long hours necessary to keep the  proverbial “wheels on the bus” is without risk of these problems.  Add to that the relative ease of going  from one “friend” to another to get the prescription that is needed, and we have created a potential formula for disaster.

The seriousness of the outcomes derived from this series of questions is not something that any of us “in the business” is in any way ignoring.  It is real.  It definitely could result in injury andor death through medical errors.  So, the question becomes one of management, monitoring and self-policing.  The airline industry pays very close attention to the impairment of their pilots. Why?  Their crashes are typically not between one pilot and one passenger.  They are large, emotional events that impact literally thousands of lives.

When will the medical community begin to embrace the same standards as the airline industry?  It seems to me that we are currently “on  the move toward that objective now,” and as the public and government put more and more pressure on the healthcare industry to be transparent, it will become harder and harder to hide those shadow surgeries that went wrong  or those mis-diagnosed cases that could be traced back to impaired professionals.

Image credit: Edie Falco as Nurse Jackie - (c) Showtime Networks

The Modern Healthcare article ended with the statement that doctors “need more education on programs that evaluate and manage treatment and monitoring for impaired doctors.”  I agree . . . in this case, more is better, but how many “Nurse Jackies” (i.e., the hypothetical impaired employees) do we have flying low throughout our facilities as well?  The healthcare industry needs to pay attention to all of its impaired at all levels.

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Overexposure to Radiation

July 12th, 2010

When I saw this…

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Ever since a surge in cases of patient exposure to excess amounts of radiation during diagnostic procedures, pressure has been mounting for healthcare providers and equipment manufacturers. The FDA has already taken action, including a call for stepped-up training for practitioners and a more stringent approval process for radiation-emitting equipment.

Antique X-Ray machine used to determine shoe size

Antique x-ray machine used to determine children's shoe sizes. Photo credit: desertsurvivor.blogspot.com

…I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  Overexposure to radiation is something I’ve thought about for many years.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that, short of cancer victims, I’d be the poster child for this for Boomers.  Let me count the ways.  Every time I went to my family doc as a kid for anything except a strain or a splinter, he’d zap me with the fluoroscope,  just for good measure.  Then, when we went shopping at Buster Brown’s, in order to determine my foot length and width,  I’d get my feet x-rayed.  After that, I played too much trumpet and had to have my lip radiated because of a blemish that wouldn’t go away.  There were at least seven radiation sessions with Dr. Jacob, a dermatologist who reminded me of Dr. Jekyll.  He zapped me because that’s what they did in “those days” for blemishes.  He would lay me on the table, cover me in lead, and zap my lip with radiation.  Thank goodness for the lead.

As a young adult, my Internal Medicine doctor had his own x-ray equipment and used to say, “Okay, time for your chest x-ray.”  Problem was, he did it every single time I went to him.   Once, however, when I went there, there was no x-ray.  I asked the nurse why and she laughed and said, “Oh, that old piece of junk…it was zapping all of us with radiation.”   Later that week I heard on the radio that he had donated his unit to a small hospital.

As a teacher, chest x-rays were a requirement.  We would be invited to go onto an old x-ray bus every two years and they would light us up on a piece of x-ray equipment that probably put out more radiation than the bombs dropped at Nagasaki and Hiroshima. All in the name of TB checks.

Bronchitis visited me regularly over the past several decades, and chest x-rays were always part of those visits. So were dental x-rays, over and over and over again. The MRIs do things a little differently, but I’m sure there’s still some type of telltale exposure there, and I’ve had three or four of those. Annual physicals now include chest x-rays, thallium stress tests, et al, and visits to the bone docs required x-rays, too.  Oh yeah, and the heart caths?  They fill you with dye and then they light you up with the ol’ fluoroscope… did that three times.

And don’t forget the “new fangled invention that’s perfectly safe,” the heart screening on the 2, 16, 64 and then 128 slice PET/CTs. Did that three times, too.

BUT let’s get to the real exposure — playing in the sunshine, sans any type of sun tan lotion or sun screen.  Okay, I guess that’s an exaggeration.  We used to mix Merthiolate with baby oil, or sometimes just use baby oil to ensure a nice brown cooked look.  Every year I looked like a half Italian coffee bean.  It was more than a tan.  It was a deep fried, make your teeth look whiter than snow, fun in the sun, ain’t wearin’ no shirt, nature is good for you, sun tan with burns that preceded the tans every year.

HealingHospitals.com - Overexposure to Radiation - Nick Jacobs, FACHE

So, when people tell me to eat organic, I smile and think, “Yep, that will erase all of those rads that filled me up like a Rocky Mountain boulder,” but I do what they say and just wait and pray that the radiation devil will not come my way.  If the sickness won’t kill you, the cure will, and that’s the truth.  At least you won’t ever need a night light.

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Running to a Hospital

June 13th, 2010

Periodically, it brings me comfort to return to my home base, and that is a place where not enough of my former peers have still journeyed.  One of my more spiritual friends always stops my conversations by saying, “Nick, you need to let go, and ask to be directed to the place where you can do the most good.”  She is talking about spirituality, believing in the universe, allowing destiny to present itself to you.  Truthfully, I spend a lot of my time being frustrated, wondering why others can’t see the light regarding such simple issues as: Transparency, Kindness, Patient and Employee-centeredness.

U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary, Hon. Eric Shinseki

U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary, Hon. Eric K. Shinseki

Interestingly, the largest public health system, the U.S. Veterans Administration (which has 17,272 beds and 153 hospitals) began their journey of “change” about five years ago when several of their administrators first approached Planetree.  I’ve been writing about, involved in, and literally living Planetree for decades now, and my passion for this philosophy of care has not waned.  It is about humanizing the healthcare experience, being transparent, centering your focus on employees, staff, and patients in ways that have not been considered even before the United States universities produced more attorneys than physicians.

Unfortunately, our business-minded organizations continue to look upon kindness as weakness, upon transparency as stupidity, upon patient and employee centered activities as pandering, and the price that we pay because of this archaic thinking is very high for all of us.

So, why would the VA get involved?  They “saw the light,” and the light was pretty darn bright.  When you look at the statistics regarding infections, lengths of stay, litigation, and patient and employee satisfaction, there  appears to be no decision.  Of course we can achieve several of these “dashboard” goals by producing human widgets, by treating people like objects, by taking over entire geographies and making sure that no one has a choice about anything, and we can continue to rack up profits in the billions, but are we really doing our  job?

Generations of Valor - WW II meets IraqThe VA thought not and started their journey, hospital by hospital, toward a kinder, gentler world.  Will they be successful with a culture bred out of military medicine?  Can they change a system that has long since been openly criticized as broken?  I think they can and they will, and with pending legislation that will permit our military and retired military personnel to “seek care where it is best delivered,” it will be interesting to see how well they do.

If you are in hospital administration and have little or no competition, ask yourself what would happen if your new competition allowed the patients to access their medical records; if  loved ones were invited to stay and become part of care giving teams; if there was 24 hour a day 7 day a week visiting hours; if employees were always treated with diginty; respected, rewarded, and recognized for their work;  if patients were always at the center of their own care?

Hopefully, someday, the masses will get it, and we will go from treating “organs” to treating people; we will focus on prevention not cleaning up train wrecks; we will embrace kindness, openness, transparency, healing and respect; and finally, we will acknowledge that the value of a human being is not based upon the value of his or her estate.  When that happens your patients will be “Running to a hospital” …your hospital.

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So “Radical” Was the Correct Term?

April 8th, 2010
In 1987, my healthcare journey began in administration by asking the question, “Why are hospitals the way the are?”  It was a sincere inside/out question that had evolved from my having been a teacher, executive director of an arts organization, president of a convention and visitors bureau, and finally a PR/Marketing and Development professional in the world of healthcare.  By 1997, my ideas had been rejected so many times by so many traditional hospital administrators, who were either my bosses or my peers, that it felt like they would never come to fruition in a conservative field where change is sometimes seen as both life and job-threatening.
butterfly metamorphosis
In 1997, that all changed when Ernst and Young evaluated the hospital where my presidential appointment had just occurred and predicted the closure of that facility due to lack of population, lack of “financial depth” (a.k.a. cash), and a health system partner that successfully was eating our lunch each and every day. It was with that information in hand that I began the metamorphosis of this organization. The presentation to the board and medical staff was relatively simple:

“We can keep doing what we are doing, and then board the place up… or we can grow by changing  the way healthcare is delivered.”

No workplace bullying - Nick Jacobs - healtinghospitals.comLuckily for me, my board chairman at that time was a risk taker because, realistically, our backs were against the wall.  So, we began a journey of change.   We removed bullies from the workplace (both physicians and employees); created a homelike environment where you did not have to leave your dignity at the door;  added bread baking machines, popcorn machines in the lobby, decorative fountains, aroma therapy, massage, humor, music, and pet therapies.  We focused on Green, focused on Dignity for employees and patients; focused on providing a peaceful, loving, and Healing Environment; focused on Family Spaces; focused on Architecture; and focused on Quality of Care.  We began classes for our employees in Hospitality in Emotional Intelligence Quotient training and embraced ideas garnered from places like the Ritz Carlton, Disney, and Dale Carnegie.  Then we established an employee evaluation system that embraced these changes and rewarded our staff financially for their work.

Loved ones were encouraged to stay 24/7 as visiting hours were opened to them, double beds were placed in the OB suites, a wellness/prevention/and integrative health facility was built to embrace not only traditional therapies but to an entire gamut of alternatives.  A senior citizen center was condominiumized and made available to the Area Agency on Aging.  We had patients help us design a new Palliative Care Unit, Breast Care Center, and Fitness facility, then finally we added a world class International Research Institute.

That was 1997 through 2008.  It appears from the posting below that the world is beginning to consider some of these ideas, but lo, these many years later, they are still being referred to as “radical.”  Well, if any of you are interested in how to do what we did which tripled our organizational budget in size and doubled our workforce,  just give me a call at 412-992-6197, to participate in this program.

Obviously, Windber, Pennsylvania was where this movement all started.   Let’s make sure that it doesn’t stop.  After all, it’s not what people like.  It’s what people LOVE.

Henry Ford Health System - Nick Jacobs, FACHE - HealingHospitals.com

Henry Ford Health System Goes Radical: Creating the Hospital of the Future

DETROIT – Looking to shake up your industry, transform your medical center, and recharge your organization?

A two-day educational symposium, “Going Radical: Creating the Hospital of the Future,” may hold the key to revitalization. It will be held May 25 – 27.

Henry Ford Health System President and CEO Nancy Schlichting will share her radical, but practical strategies for success at the symposium, tapping into the wisdom of her top executives in an interactive session on the profound lessons learned during their tenure.

It was Schlichting’s brainstorm to hire a CEO for Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital from outside the healthcare industry. Her choice was Gerard van Grinsven, a former executive of the Ritz-Carlton hotel chain, and an expert in service excellence.

Henry Ford West Bloomfield staff will discuss its successes in differentiating itself from the competition by:

• Constructing prototype rooms for planning and community input.

• Incorporating green features in the architecture and construction.

• Building all private patient rooms, including in the emergency department.

• Emphasizing wellness and healthy living.

• Combining traditional clinical care with complementary therapies.

• Creating a unique brand and inspiring staff to think differently.

• Including family space in each patient room, including intensive care.

• Implementing a new kind of food culture in health care.

• Putting a focus on the special concerns of the elderly.

Entrepreneur Bill Taylor, co-author of Mavericks at Work and co-founder of Fast Company magazine, will be the keynote speaker. His ideas have helped shape the global conversation about how business works and “why the most original minds in business win”. His next book, Practically Radical, to be published this fall, explores how to unleash big change in difficult times.

During break-out sessions Henry Ford staff will share lessons learned while juggling the building of the $360-million West Bloomfield hospital and the $300 million renovation of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

Tours of Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital will include a visit to the Emergency Department, wellness center, and an inpatient room. At Henry Ford Hospital, participants will tour the Center for Simulation, Education and Research – one of the largest facilities of its kind in the Midwest that provides hands-on training with medical mannequins.

Symposium sessions include:

• Creating a Culture of High Performance
• Facility Innovations Through the Eyes of the Patient
• The Best of Both Worlds: Clinical Excellence Meets Integrative Medicine
• Transforming Hospital Food
• Radical Outreach: Relationship Building to Win Over the Community and Recruit Staff
• Thriving in Detroit: A Blueprint for Transforming Your Hospital System and The Physician Perspective

each and every day.  It was with that information in hand that I began the metamorphasis of this organization.  The presentation to the board and medical staff was relatively simple, “We can keep doing what we are doing, and then board the place up, or we can change the way healthcare is delivered and grow.”
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So, it passed. Now what?

March 22nd, 2010

The very essence of the fabric of our society has changed today and forever.  The questions that arise from the passage of health care  reform are endless in number and the answers will be both evolutionary and revolutionary.  Not unlike those dark or bright days following the passage of Medicare back in the 60’s, the naysayers are predicting the end of the United States and those individuals who will be positively impacted are finally able to sleep through the night without feeling the steady stream of their own tears flowing across their cheeks because they either couldn’t get care or couldn’t afford to pay for the care.

It is more than a cultural change, it is a humanity change.  The key to both, however, is the word change. Those who have wonderful, sustainable, well-financed lives with adequate health insurance are concerned that their hard-earned dollars will go to support an inefficient welfare sate.  Interestingly, many of these people clearly may benefit tremendously by these changes, but  they are unsure as to what that change will represent to them personally.

When Medicare passed, those who did not or could not embrace it quickly enough did have significant life changes.  On the other hand, those who could ended up doing better than they could have ever dreamed.  The same was true of the managed care movement of a dozen years ago. The real question here seems to be one of  “The Greater Good.”  Will it be worth it to help our fellow man?

The bigger issue in my mind is the question of our ability to shift from sickness to wellness care. Wellness and prevention, Tort Reform, Big Insurance, Big Pharma, were all part of the dance.  What will their involvement be in this new healthcare plan?  My insurance friends are predicting the end of their world. Will it be the end or just a different model?

What do we need to do to make it work?  We need to end two wars, decrease the DoD spending accordingly, and monitor those who abuse the system.  We still need Tort Reform. We need to reimburse our physicians for counseling their patients about wellness and prevention as well as for end of  life choices and options.

Telemedicine technology

In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review by Gardiner Morse, The Ten Innovations that will Transform Medicine, we see a stimulating list of opportunities that could make this all work better:

1. Evidence Based Decision Making
2. Payment Innovation (based on outcomes and volumes)
3.  Patient Portals for access to personal health information
4.  Behaviorial Economics
5.  Protocols that work for specific treatments
6. Accountable Care
7. Regenerative Medicine (incl. adult stem cells)
8. Virtual Visits  (telemedicine)
9.  Genetics
10.  Robotics

Regardless of your personal view of healthcare reform, it was clear that the system has been broken for a very long time, and whatever religion or spiritual belief you embrace, it has to be supportive of an effort that will potentially stop destroying the lives of others due to either a lack of available healthcare or a lack of finances.  Stay Tuned.

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