Every employee at UTMB contributes to patient care. Whether you work directly with patients on a daily basis or not—each person who wears a UTMB badge impacts the overall patient experience on some level.
“The impression patients and their families have of their care experience is created by more than just the interactions they have with physicians and nurses,” said Donna Sollenberger, executive vice president and chief executive officer for the UTMB Health System. “When I hear rave reviews from patients, they often describe their encounters with everyone they met along the way. They remember the person who greeted them or the person who thanked them for choosing UTMB, the person who spoke to them on the phone, the person who gave them directions, and the person who transported them to their destination.”
Sollenberger said patients often describe a technician who calmed their fears or someone who stayed to hold their hand during a procedure. They mention the person who delivered their meal, who cleaned their room or the person who helped them find the resources they needed.
“Their experience is also impacted by those they don’t see, such as the teams who maintain the clinical equipment and facility infrastructure,” she added.
With that in mind, a new UTMB initiative called “Best Care” is the No. 1 priority goal for UTMB over the next 14 months.
The Best Care push comes on the heels of University of Texas System Chancellor William McRaven’s outline of several bold initiatives—or “quantum leaps”—in System’s plan to provide Texas the very best in higher education, research and health care. As part of his global vision, UTMB is aiming to achieve a top 20 ranking among academic medical centers by fiscal year 2018.
The top 20 ranking is measured by the Vizient Quality and Accountability Study, which has been conducted annually since 2005 and helps academic medical centers identify structures and processes associated with high performance in quality and safety across a broad spectrum of patient-care activities. Sollenberger helped develop the survey while serving on a committee that included leaders from major academic medical centers around the country.
While UTMB is emerging as a leading academic center in many ways and already ranks high for patient satisfaction, Sollenberger said there is still a lot of work to do.
“Right now, we rank solidly in the middle of the pack for academic health centers—so my question is, ‘Is it all right to deliver ‘OK’ care?’” said Sollenberger. “Best Care requires more than patient satisfaction, and it’s more than being patient-centered. It means patients heal well and stay well; it means they do not acquire a preventable infection or injury; it means that their care is safe, timely and effective. Best Care means we consistently deliver care that meets these criteria, every single time, and for every single patient.”
UTMB’s main areas of focus to achieve Best Care are:
- Efficiency: Decrease length of stay, reduce variation in practice and direct cost as compared to our peers
- Mortality: Eliminate all preventable deaths (e.g., early sepsis detection, process improvement)
- Effectiveness: Accelerate reduction in 30-day readmissions and improve patient flow in the Emergency Department
- Safety: Eliminate all preventable patient safety events (e.g., postoperative sepsis, perioperative hemorrhage/hematoma, pressure ulcers, central line-associated blood stream infections)
- Improve clinical documentation and coding
- Maintain performance in patient-centeredness and equity
So how can you contribute? If you work directly with patients, doing the right thing for the right patient at the right time is your guiding principle. Several projects are already underway to help reach the goals of Best Care. One such project includes Dr. Gulshan Sharma, associate chief medical officer with the Department of Internal Medicine, who is leading a team to review all observed mortalities generated by Epic, identify areas for improvement and implement best practices.
If you don’t provide direct patient care, your work still supports UTMB’s mission to improve health. For example, a person working in IT may help ensure clinical documentation is done correctly by training providers on how to use Epic. A central supply tech contributes to patient flow and safety by making sure UTMB hospitals and clinics have the right supplies in the right amounts. A researcher in the Galveston National Laboratory works tirelessly to find new therapies and cures for diseases. All of these roles have a positive influence on patient experience and UTMB’s reputation in the community.
“Everyone is the face of UTMB,” said Sollenberger. “Although you may not touch a patient, we all impact the patient’s care, their experience, their overall impression of UTMB, and in some cases, even their safety. Whether we work in Information Services, Business Operations and Facilities, Revenue Cycle, Human Resources, Materials Management, clinical departments—if we come to work every day and do our jobs to the best of our abilities, we can be the best.”
Sollenberger acknowledges the aggressive timeline to be a top-performing academic medical center by fiscal year 2018, but says it is doable if we remain focused on making improvements that will stick long-term. UTMB will be able to track its progress monthly until the next study is released in the fall of 2017.
“When we start thinking about this not as a competition, but rather the right thing to do for our patients, we’ll succeed,” said Sollenberger. “If we are in the top 20, that’s great, but more than that, our patients will benefit. That’s the outcome we really want: fewer complications, higher satisfaction and lower costs. It’s a huge effort that will require everyone, but I know we can do it.”
Best Care is a team effort
“Everything we do in the Academic Enterprise is ultimately about the patient—either clinically as regards patient services, indirectly as regards scientific discoveries to improve the human condition or training future providers. In fact, we believe it is an academic duty to improve health care in these ways. For these reasons, Best Care is right for all of our missions. We can all support this effort by practicing evidence-based, patient-centered care, discovering new ways to improve health, leading our students, providing the vital support services needed to make all of these endeavors successful and offering assistance or a kind word to those in need. We all have an opportunity to change people’s lives for the better, and working together with our Health System and Institutional Support colleagues, we will achieve Best Care for those we serve.” - Dr. Danny Jacobs, Executive Vice President, Provost and Dean, School of Medicine
“At first glance, it may be difficult to see how Business and Finance can impact an initiative like Best Care. The truth is, everything Business and Finance does impacts Best Care. We provide the infrastructure and supporting services essential to patient care, while also supporting the work of many clinicians and researchers who have direct contact with all of the lives touched by UTMB each and every day. We enhance UTMB’s service excellence through focus on our people, our facilities, our technology systems, our financial sustainability and our future growth. As we work toward Best Care, it is our hope that Business and Finance personnel continue providing services in the most efficient, accurate way possible, but also look for other ways to support our colleagues in patient care missions and in all direct interactions with patients and their families.” - Cheryl Sadro, Executive Vice President and Chief Business and Finance Officer