St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Focused on Integrating Care through Technology

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Jack-Weiner-thumbJack Weiner, PharmD, FACHE, President and Chief Executive Officer, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland

Healthcare technology is advancing at a breathtaking pace, and while it provides an unprecedented level of data and insight, pulling all of the available information together in a way that informs total care of the patient is challenging to achieve.

One hospital in Pontiac, Mich., has found great success through integrating multiple systems in order to effectively use data to provide coordinated patient care.

Integrating across platforms to improve patient experience

In May of this year, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland opened a new 208-bed patient tower that unveiled an updated healing environment with luxury features and all-private rooms. The tower was designed and decorated with patient comfort in mind, using natural light, Feng Shui principles, and artwork from local artists.

The keystone of the facility is the Intelligent Care System. The system brings together tools from eight technology providers to foster patient-centered care and improve satisfaction.

“Electronic medical records systems have not taken technology to a point where, by integrating it, we can prevent falls, project where patients will be in 12 to 24 hours and intervene early, [and] help prevent people from having codes,” said Jack Weiner, PharmD, FACHE, president and chief executive officer.

The Intelligent Care System is meant to address these shortcomings. One feature of the system is a device attached to the patient’s wrist that continuously and remotely monitors five vital signs. The information is sent to nurses’ iPhones, where they also receive alarms, patient calls, and other alerts. This limits how often patients need to be disturbed during their stay. Another aspect of the system is the smart bed, which communicates directly with the EMR and clinical staff to help prevent falls and improve overall safety.

Through an interactive entertainment system, patients are more involved in their care. They can receive information on their scheduled procedures, medications, patient education materials, and discharge instructions through the television in their rooms.

Using data to drive clinical improvement

In addition to making patients more comfortable, the system is designed to improve clinical outcomes from falls prevention to lowering infection rates. The hand-hygiene compliance solution uses proximity sensors to monitor staff adherence to handwashing guidelines.

“Through this solution, we can guarantee handwashing will be done at the 90 percent or better level rather than the documented 25 to 45 percent level,” Dr. Weiner said.

The integration of technologies allows for more monitoring of internal performance and overall operations of the organization.

“Executives have struggled with how to convert a lot of data points into useful information,” he said. “We have streamlined our reporting into a program that allows staff to see how they are doing in as close to real time as we can get.”

Using a program developed in partnership with a local company, iDashboard, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland can survey bottlenecks and efficiencies, process data on cost structure and operating characteristics, and evaluate performance data. iDashboard feeds all data systems into a graphics package with predetermined analytics to allow staff to view simple readouts of speedometers, dashboards, and graphs, which enables them to see overall data related to performance expectations as well as individual data to measure performance with peers.

“We discuss every metric at our monthly meetings, not to look at who failed, but why the system broke down and how we can fix it,” Dr. Weiner said. “We use a philosophy of supporting people rather than degrading them. We keep people involved at the broadest level and allow our people to have a say in how we address problems.”

St. Joseph Mercy Oakland has also made investments in room-sterilization tools, using pulse light in operating rooms, procedure rooms, and any room with an infection, to enhance safety and avoid the activities that extend stays or lead to readmissions.

Maintaining a culture of accountability and performance

St. Joes has made huge strides not only in patient care, but also in physician and staff alignment over the past decade. Dr. Weiner said when he first took over the hospital 11 years ago, staff morale was low. But through a commitment to cultural excellence, the organization has completely turned around. It now has one of the largest stroke networks in the nation and has won national awards for quality and programs.

“One key to changing the culture was to establish expectations,” he said. “When leadership doesn’t expect excellence, they don’t get it. When people start hitting targets and get proud of it, they keep going. It becomes more problematic to fail than to succeed. We also acknowledge people when they win, not just leadership.”

Dr. Weiner credits the devotion of the people at St. Joes for the success the hospital has seen and the progress it has made with implementing these ambitious programs.

“I am blessed by having a team of people who want to excel, to be involved in the accomplishment,” he said. “The team is more likely to ask for forgiveness later than my permission upfront, and that’s the culture we’ve encouraged. We can do big things with that culture.”

by Patricia Chaney

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