Posted on behalf of Paul Actis, Senior VP of Research and Development
This was my first time attending Becker’s Hospital Review. Becker’s offered an invitation to attend as long as I would be a reviewer for some of the sessions, so this provided a great opportunity to participate.
One of the most difficult decisions was which sessions to attend, given there could be up to eight happening at one time.   Being most familiar with IT administration, I wanted to branch out into other areas. The first session I attended was ‘The Initiatives We Are Most Excited About‘.  One of the speakers was from our own New England area of Keene, NH.   Unbeknown to many, she pointed out there is limited access to both internet and broadband features in rural communities. This can affect patient engagement and keeping up with communication between patient and care providers, which you really don’t hear about when living in highly populous regions.
During this session, it was universally agreed upon that almost every hospital has a nursing shortage.  A variety of methods are usually put in place to overcome that; increased pay, other incentives, and perks.   One of the panelist management teams came up with a unique idea:  An ED Medic Program where paramedics are trained to perform nurse-like functions within the hospital.   This allowed nurses to be limited to six patients each, along with assistance from two paramedics. This solution provides more focused patient care while alleviating the nursing issue.
Another topic of note was that of employee engagement.  A survey of one of the panelist staff showed that 6 out of 10 employees were engaged in their jobs, meaning 40% were.   This corresponded to their actual patient’s percentage of those that would not recommend the hospital to others.   To resolve this the management makes a point of having a conversation with each staff member at least once a month to discuss how they can help them out and look for ways of improvement for the future.
The second session attended was ‘Hospital Incident Command System and Health IT’ presented by Mission Health System.  Being that Summit Healthcare offers a Business Continuity Solution, I thought it would be worthwhile to see how a hospital manages crises.
From the start, you can tell that Mission takes this very seriously. They implemented a Hospital Incident Command System (HICS), which is a nationally recognized system whose procedures include chain of command, and management by objectives.  This can entail any kind of incident; downtime, natural disaster, electrical outage. You can find more information on it here:
Along with HICS, Mission also created an IT Incident Management group and with that, the role of IT Incident and Problem Management.    Mission has over 600 applications to support their hospital and physician network; therefore, it’s crucial to maintaining patient care that they have a department and dedicated management to oversee any incidents.   They implemented a SPRINT (Service Performance Restoration Normalization Team) process so that when an incident occurs everyone knows their job and what their responsibilities are.
The first two sessions highlight lessons that can be taken into our own workplacesIf your employees are not engaged, that could reflect how your clients perceive you.   In times of crisis, Winner always asks for the ball
Another great session was ‘Healthcare 2018: The Trends that Matter to Hospital Leaders‘, a roundtable discussion with leading hospital executives.  Common themes throughout the session were around MACRA, ACOs, and Value-Based-Care.   An interesting trend noted was how physician consolidation (especially the 1-2 physician offices) has moved to larger practices over the last 5 years.   Physicians want to be alleviated of the burden of managing their practices to concentrate on their patients and moving to larger offices helps with that.
(On a selfish note, it was great to see one of the panelists was from Cottage Hospital in New Hampshire, who is a Summit Healthcare client)
When asked ‘What is the Health System of the Future?’, the panelist discussed using social determinants to help make better decisions, outpatient clinics, and wellness centers possibly lowering the need for more beds in a hospital, and electronics (wearable technologies) providing pro-active information.
For the question ‘What Keeps You Up at Night?’, the definitive answer always comes back to cost, and that the current business model in the US doesn’t work.  Healthcare is 20% of GDP and unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there is any momentum for it to change.
Finally, it’s always an honor to hear a current or past President of the USA speak.   Bill Clinton was the keynote speaker today and he did not disappoint.    This was the first time I attended a presidential event (either current, former, or dead) so I was very excited.  The ex-POTUS spoke on such diverse topics:  health population, gun control, voting rights, Northern Ireland and astrology.    You can tell the former president really shines in these types of environments and is very knowledgeable on all topics.    It was a great way to end the first day.