Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center: Mark LaRose, President/CEO

by HCE Exchange on September 8, 2011

“Health Care on a Higher Level”

Communities in Florida were some of the hardest hit by the economic downturn in the United States, but despite its struggles Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center has remained focused on providing the best experience for patients.

“The most important thing to us is the patient experience and patients’ satisfaction,” said Mark LaRose, president and chief executive officer. “We make an effort to talk with every inpatient during the time they’re at our hospital and ask how things are going, and how their stay has been. Whenever there is any level of concern, we do our best to satisfy it on the same day.”

LaRose said the center is nationally ranked between the 90th and 95th percentile in overall satisfaction and willingness to recommend on the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey. The hospital is also among the top one percent of hospitals in the nation for clinical quality outcomes. A key to maintaining these scores, LaRose said, is having strong leaders and directors.

“Even one weak leader can lead to low morale, which spreads,” he said. “We are focused on supporting leadership and providing education.”

Surviving and growing in a declining community

Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center is located in central Florida, in Daytona Beach. In the past year, the county has lost about 2,200 people. The unemployment rate is 12.6 compared with 9.8 for the nation. This economy has affected patients’ ability to pay and how the staff interacts with patients.

“We have had many people coming into physician offices, even when insured, saying they are unable to pay the copay or afford a procedure or diagnostic test,” LaRose said. “This has changed the way our medical staff is relating to people. We have to be flexible. We’re a service industry, and we have to be compassionate and provide the necessary care. But at the same time, we have our own fiscal needs to meet. It’s a balancing act.”

Florida Hospital is focusing on becoming more efficient throughout the hospital, particularly related to supplies. “We seek to partner with physicians to narrow down the most effective supplies to use and see how that affects our cost within each service line,” LaRose said.

Despite struggles, the hospital has provided new facilities for patients. The hospital facility is new, having opened in July 2009. A $15 million, 30,000 square-foot freestanding cancer center was opened on campus in 2011. These expansions stay committed to the hospital’s focus on the patient experience.

“The hospital is probably one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. And the cancer center was designed to embrace all the needs a patient has,” LaRose said. “We have people in place that can empathize and be compassionate and helpful at the cancer center.”

Another  challenging initiative has been implementing computerized physician order entry (CPOE).

“This is a gigantic change in the way physicians do things,” LaRose said. “We knew this would be a difficult transition, but our physicians embraced the challenge with the vision of greater safety and quality care for our patients.”

The hospital invested many resources into the implementation and communication with staff about the change. LaRose worked with physicians to improve acceptance of the system and processes that come along with it so that the hospital can see improvements in reducing medication errors.

Florida Hospital is part of the Adventist Health System, which has 43 hospitals, and some of which have also gone live with CPOE.

“Every community has its own culture and medical staff, but we incorporated the lessons we took from our predecessors on this system to make the transition as smooth as possible,” LaRose said.

Florida Hospital is continuing to look toward the future and maintain its commitment to providing quality health care on a higher level.

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