Looking Forward to 2019

Premier Pulse     December 2018

By Jennifer Hauler, DO, system chief medical officer, Premier Health

December marks not only the close of the year, but the perfect time to think about goals and priorities for the upcoming year. The frenetic pace and ever-changing political, regulatory, and payor dynamics have become the new normal for health care. Strategy in this environment must be clear, focused, and agile. With this perspective in mind, I wanted to highlight some of our key priorities for 2019.

Quality and safety are the foundation of success in health care. The new year will see a continued focus on evidence-based practice and standardization. Medical directors, department chairs, the medical staff quality committee, and medical staff leaders will be called upon to define priorities and best practice, outline process, and drive change. Partnerships with nursing, the ancillary and quality staffs, and physicians and providers in the outpatient space will be vital. Enhanced data analytics will be required to provide physician- and provider-specific feedback. Increased transparency will be required to meet the needs of independent physician groups and foster open conversation about refinement. The Focused Professional Practice Evaluation (FPPE) needs to be understood as a mechanism for process improvement rather than a punitive tool.

The service line structure will be enhanced by the creation of operational excellence teams. These new teams combine operations, regulatory, and quality and are designed to enable service lines to narrow their focus to the key functions of strategy development and volume growth.

With an unprecedented number of physicians and providers delivering care at multiple Premier Health sites, there are many benefits to considering a unified medical staff. Determining the will of the individual medical staffs, proposing an equitable model of governance and representation, and identifying what could remain under local control versus what would be appropriate for system discussion will require considerable debate and thoughtful evaluation.

An unfortunate reality of modern health care is financial pressure. Premier Health will need to continue to think of creative ways to deliver the highest quality care in the lowest cost setting. Expanding and exploring new ways to use telehealth, ensuring tight handoffs and care transitions, maximizing sourcing decisions, limiting waste, and deepening the relationships and communication with home health, the clinic system, and outpatient care providers will be required.

It must be easy for patients and referring physicians, providers, and hospital systems to do business with Premier Health. Internally, operations need to be optimized to enable smooth test ordering and patient movement. Externally, workflows need to be simplified to bring patients into the system. Determining – and resolving – the barriers to these workflows is essential.

Report after report demonstrates that physicians are tired, frustrated, and burned out. The Epic team will continue and expand efforts to optimize the EHR, remove useless pop-ups that contribute to alert fatigue, and educate physicians and providers on tips for greater efficiency. The CMOs, PPN leadership, administration, physician partnership committee, provider wellness teams, and physician relations management staff will develop new ways to better support the physical, mental, and spiritual health of our physicians and providers.

This is in no way an exhaustive list of our priorities for 2019, but a high-level overview of where I believe we need to focus. As you think of where we need to be in 2019, I hope these thoughts resonate with you. Agree or disagree; I am always open to your feedback – particularly regarding any missed opportunities.

Among the busy holiday cheer and end-of-the-year festivities, I hope you will take a few minutes to reflect on our wonderful accomplishments of 2018. There has been no shortage of challenge or change for Premier Health; but throughout it all, our physicians and providers have demonstrated resilience, grace, and a steadfast dedication to excellent patient care and compassion for the community. It is a true honor to work for and with you. My most sincere well wishes to you and your families during this special time of year!

Back to the December 2018 issue of Premier Pulse

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