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5 highlights from Leadership Assembly

Feb. 20, 2020, 10:57 AM

Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, spoke about VUMC’s goals and milestones during Wednesday’s Leadership Assembly.
Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, spoke about VUMC’s goals and milestones during Wednesday’s Leadership Assembly. (photo by Donn Jones)

by Holly Fletcher

A focus on bolstering and supporting the people who put the “personal” in personalized care is fueling initiatives around Vanderbilt University Medical Center as leaders look to boost connectivity of an expanding workforce that’s taking on more patients in a rapidly changing environment.

“The ‘caring spirit’ is, for many of us, why we’re here, and it’s even in our vision statement. We want to make it possible for everyone who works here and everyone who comes here to know that we are leaders not only in how we treat injury and disease but also leaders in how we care for people, including our people,” said Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of VUMC and Dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine at the February Leadership Assembly.

Here’s what to know about the goals and milestones as VUMC moves into the second half of its fiscal year:

  1. Writing the guideposts toward the next era

The two adjectives people across the country consistently rank in surveys as their top priorities in health care are convenience and personalization—which is an opportunity for VUMC to showcase its longstanding dominance in cataloging and parsing DNA to underpin personalized care, said Balser.

The medical center has been working for more than two decades at harnessing technology and driving forward the integration of genomics into care. Yet, technology is only a part of a personalized system. The culture has to foster a sense of purpose and awareness of the layered perception of personalized.

The next era of care requires a united workforce that intuitively coalesces around the vision and mission of VUMC. An initiative to distill and refine the vision and mission statements into a grounding tag line is a chance to reflect on the future interpretation of VUMC’s history of caring and personalization while communicating what people can expect when they come to VUMC.

“Patients motivate toward thinking ‘you care about me’ and we need to be united in how we present as care givers both internally and externally. To be the leader in personalized medicine we have to be personal – and I want you to have a voice in how we talk about that,” said Balser.

  1. Lighting up the little screens

The expanding menu of options and functionality of My Health at Vanderbilt is drawing more users and digital activity. The digital portal topped 530,000 users in the last year and is on track to provide a Spanish-language version that will be a resource for more than 10% of people in the Nashville area.

C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, updated attendees on progress, growth and trends.
C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, updated attendees on progress, growth and trends. (photo by Donn Jones)

“Our digital front door is opening wider and wider. This is a very important accomplishment in today’s world,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, Deputy CEO and Chief Health System Officer.

In January, there were more than 15,000 appointments made by patients online and additional scheduling capabilities, including first time appointments, are on the horizon.

“It’s going to shift how people think about healthcare. We’re going to be the only system in the region that provides that – and it’s a central way people think about convenience,” said Balser.

  1. Attention to detail and patients shine in FY20

Clinical and financial targets are on track to beat goals given performance midway through the fiscal year, said Pinson. Even with year-over-year growth in volumes, the enterprise’s safety, clinical, research, finance and patient experience targets are beating expectations.

Executives want priorities in the second half of the year to mirror the strong efforts of the first and focusing on improving services, handling increasing volumes and managing expenses.

“We had a spectacular first half of the year thanks to your hard work. The efforts of your teams are clearly making a difference,” said Pinson.

  1. Do unto others

People with access to patient medical records need to make sure privacy is the top priority, said Pinson. Patients’ expectation of privacy and confidentiality is at the forefront of digital innovation and it’s important to ensure the stringent guidelines are followed by everyone who has access to the electronic health record system, he said.

“We need to continue to foster a culture where it’s never thought acceptable to look at patient records except for appropriate care reasons. We have an ethical and legal obligation to deliver on our promise and it’s up to us as leaders to set the tone of absolute commitment to patient privacy,” said Pinson.

Consuelo Wilkins, MD, MSCI, was a featured speaker at the assembly.
Consuelo Wilkins, MD, MSCI, was a featured speaker at the assembly. (photo by Donn Jones)
  1. Caring for the spirit of VUMC

“Our workforce is the heart and soul of our organization and I’d like to make sure everyone feels valued,” said Pinson.

Initiatives and efforts to make the medical system a welcoming and safe place to work are underway in all parts of the enterprise, and range from enhancing communication with a new digital tool to finding ways to identify potentially violent situations for clinicians and de-escalate the tension.

Retention: Increases in and market adjustments to compensation are boosting retention around the enterprise. Additional recruiters have been hired to fill open positions to alleviate the burden on thinly stretched departments. Increases in compensation will continue to be a focus in FY21.

Connectivity: An internal news and directory app—vumc2go—will launch in the spring as a platform to link people across the growing medical system. Executives are focusing on strengthening the connections between the main campus and the growing regional sites to kindle a sense of belonging.

Respect: The new SHARE Center is open as a resource for people who want support and resources for dealing with harassment at work but do not want to report the incidents.

Safety: A 20-person workgroup is putting together a standardized approach to caring for employees who are victims of violence at the hands of patients or their families, a trend that is on the rise around the country. The protocol will focus on being proactive, prevention, intervention, and rescue and care for employees, said Balser. “People cannot come to work and not feel safe,” Balser said.

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