Dr. Robert Hart and Michael Hulefeld discuss Ochsner’s growing impact, our commitment to quality and innovation, and how our health system is making a difference to create better outcomes for patients and the communities we serve.
How does Ochsner promote a fundamental environment of quality and safety?
HART: Ensuring that our culture is honest and open is one key to success. Our employees feel empowered to speak up and report potential safety issues, allowing us to put standard systemwide processes in place to address shortcomings quickly. Initiatives like our programs to reduce hospital-acquired infections and to intervene when very ill patients begin to deteriorate are among the reasons we saw more than a 7% improvement in our Risk Adjusted Mortality Index and as high as a 30-40% improvement in most of our inpatient quality metrics in 2018. Our expanded programs in patient outreach allowed us to provide more preventive care in our community through cervical and colon cancer screenings and mammograms, among others.
HULEFELD: It starts with engaging our employees to better understand where our quality and safety opportunities lie. In 2018, we launched The Daily Connection, a series of escalating huddles that bring key quality, safety and operational challenges from the front lines to campus and executive leadership. By engaging our front-line staff more directly, we can now respond to critical issues in real time. It’s been a game-changer for our teams and our patients.
What is the most exciting part of Ochsner’s growth and expansion?
HULEFELD: When you can meet historically unmet needs in our community, and do so in a way that strengthens our health system and makes us a stronger player for the long term – that’s an exciting combination. We believe patients deserve the very best care that’s also close to home. Our partnerships can mean the difference between keeping a smaller community hospital open or shutting its doors. We’re providing access to specialty care in areas like neurosciences and pediatrics that was not previously available, recruiting new physicians and making investments in technology and facilities. Those investments also create new jobs, contributing to the economic vibrancy of these communities.
HART: The data paints a clear picture – our state is not where it needs to be in many measures of health and wellness. Whether the metric is lung cancer deaths, new HIV cases, treatment for opioid addiction or diabetes diagnoses, there are many areas for improvement. As a clinician, what’s exciting is the unique opportunity we have to help change that paradigm, and the scale we can bring to the effort. Ochsner’s growth is about increasing our reach and capacity to change and save more lives. By forging new relationships and expanding to new regions, we’re serving more patients, educating more physicians and creating stronger, healthier futures.
Ochsner was founded as an academic medical center in 1942. What are you doing today to evolve your workforce to meet the demands of a modern healthcare industry?
HART: Over the past 76 years we have built a strong national legacy as an academic medical center that prepares others for bright futures in healthcare. Strengthening community education and workforce development programs is part of our mission, and our programs have impacted more than 40,000 students and teachers across Louisiana. We continue to build on our partnerships to train the healthcare workforce of tomorrow, including the University of Queensland – Ochsner Clinical School, Chamberlain College of Nursing at Ochsner Health System and our tuition-free MA Now medical assistant programs.
HULEFELD: I am privileged to work with the more than 25,000 women and men of Ochsner who fuel the momentum, the compassion and the innovation inside our exceptional organization. We invest in their future success by creating more learning opportunities for healthcare professionals at all levels, including nearly 75,000 hours of leadership training in 2018. We’ve also taken steps to support greater economic stability and financial wellness for our employees. I’m pleased that employee engagement reached a new high in 2018, which is evidence of our progress in building a world-class workplace.
How is Ochsner working to optimize the patient experience?
HULEFELD: As a leader in our industry we’re being proactive in anticipating what our patients need and expect. There’s been a transformation in how patients interact with us. Our medical records are online, patients can communicate with their providers virtually and, in 2018, our patients booked over 400,000 appointments online. Similar to their interactions with retailers, airlines or financial institutions, our patients want to be in control with an online experience that is seamless, convenient and centered on their needs. That’s exactly what we aim to provide.
HART: We’re thinking differently about healthcare so that we can deliver the quality, value, access and convenience that puts patients first. In 2018, we launched Ochsner Anywhere Care, our virtual visit platform for urgent care and behavioral health visits. It provides convenient, quality care to those with transportation, mobility, access or scheduling challenges. We’re excited to provide our patients with that high level of convenience and quality when and where they need it.