Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Training for Life

We are now finishing the first quarter of our fiscal year and are off to a good start as we look at the balance of our organization's health. When thinking about the right balance, most people automatically think of financial performance but that is only one aspect of our organization's health just as it is in our personal lives.

A few years back, I was with a running group in Cincinnati. At the time, we were running for a couple of hours and people started talking about what race they were preparing to run (it seemed that very few people in their right minds would run that long just for the sake of doing it). The best answer came from Jennifer who said that she was "training for life.'' She figured that if she could keep pace with a group that was preparing for a race, then she was always within reach of doing the same if needed. That reminds me of the "continuous readiness" mindset that health systems and many organizations need to meet regulatory compliance and overall performance day after day.

To keep the pulse on the health of our organization it goes beyond just financials. Some examples of what we measure include:

Compliance for all applicable regulatory agencies:

I am pleased to see our continued focus in this area. We have made great strides with issues that had been a concern in the past. Congratulations to our GI team that has had four months straight of 100% of charts with the appropriate signature, date and time, an issue toward which we have made great strides over this past year.

Quality and safety:

Our patient falls with injury have remained minimal, so we track patient falls in general. (I am pleased to see a reduction of almost 20% over last year.) Our team has made great strides through patient education and increased rounding.

Service & operating effectiveness:

Our Emergency Department (ER) has made significant strides in reducing diversion (closing the ER to ambulances). While last year our ER was closed for almost three hours per day to ambulances, that issue is essentially non-existent today. We have started to focus on overall length of stay in our ER with 85% of patients getting treated and released. In just the past four months, we have reduced our average length of stay by 17%.

I look forward to hearing from you on your company's status and examples of how you keep the pulse on your organization's overall health.

1 comment:

  1. Scott,

    It is great to see that you are measuring the health of your organization using quality data in addition to financial data.

    Over the last few years our hospitals have used a balanced scorecard to measure organization health. The challenge is getting the quality data with the same discipline that we are able to gather financial data. This is the reason that I believe many hospitals have tended to focus on financial data. Not because of values but because of timeliness and availability.

    As we improve our discipline of gathering and reporting quality data we have seen a significant shift in organizational focus and priorities.

    Thanks for sharing what you are doing at your hospital

    Rick Rawson
    CEO, Adventist Health Central Valley Network
    Hanford, California