Healthcare leaders attending the Health IT Summit in San Diego, sponsored by Healthcare Informatics, had the opportunity to hear about some of the elements fueling the tremendous advances taking place these days at the Danville, Pa.-based Geisinger Health System, straight from that organization’s senior vice president and CIO, John Kravitz. Speaking on Jan. 25 at the Summit, being held at the Omni San Diego, Kravitz told attendees that all the healthcare IT advances taking place at Geisinger are tied very tightly to the organization’s overall strategic plan, a strategic plan that has evolved forward under the leadership of David T. Feinberg, M.D., who arrived in May 2015, succeeding Glenn Steele, Jr., M.D., who had already made Geisinger’s name famous for innovation in clinical performance and care quality improvement and advancement.
As Kravitz told Health IT Summit attendees on Wednesday, Geisinger’s top strategic objectives include the following: “redefine our patient experience and clinical excellence”; “create an engaging and empowering work environment”; “enhance and scale distinctive ProvenCare Portfolio capabilities; “deepen our participation in post-acute care”; “develop a sustainable and competitive go-to-market strategy” for south central Pennsylvania; achieve and sustain a successful operating margin; achieve same-day access for primary and specialty care appointments, and eliminate ER waits; and “dramatically improve patient outcomes, consistent with the highest CMS [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] criteria.” With regard to its ProvenCare portfolio, Geisinger Health System has become justly renowned for its ProvenCare program, which combines evidence- and consensus-based care pathways with, in some cases, pricing guarantees for certain procedures.
Related to those priorities, Kravitz told his audience that senior leaders at Geisinger Health are determined to improve patient, family, and community satisfaction and experience. Among other elements in that push, they are studying the Ritz-Carlton Hotels organization’s Talent Plus Program; are refocusing new employee orientation on the patient experience; are incorporating individual staff into members’ performance goals, goals oriented around the patient experience; and are working with the Net Promoter Network’s “Net Promoter scores” system to improve overall satisfaction and experience for stakeholder consumers of the health system’s services.
Within the area of patient and family satisfaction, Kravitz said, “We focus on quality and outcomes, but we were logging poor patient experience 18 months ago. We get about 50,000 phone calls a week for primary care appointments, in 216 clinics. And we found that 40 percent of calls were being dropped. People couldn’t get in to make appointments, so people would call back over frustration for waiting. So we have begun the migration to Enterprise Contact Centers with an omni-channel approach. Or videoconferencing to that appointment.”
He went on to say that “Our goal was to pick up every call on the first ring, every time.; get a same-day or next-day appointment for primary care services, and get a specialty care appointment within 10 days of request; care for our patients as if they were our family members. We’re trying to keep appointment blocs as open as possible,” he noted.
Shifting to the IT area, Kravitz told his audience that, very importantly, the overall organizational focus on service, satisfaction, and experience has shifted how the IT area of Geisinger is run, too. “We’re very performance goal-oriented,” Kravitz said. “We’ve really transformed IT to be a very metrics-driven organization. Adjust metrics over time to align to the business. IT doesn’t exist for IT; it exists to promote the business.”
Indeed, the unified data architecture initiative that Kravitz and his colleagues in IT leadership have undertaken, an effort that will make a shift towards end-user self-service around data analytics more practicable at Geisinger, has moved forward with alacrity. And that initiative has been so important that Kravitz and his IT team at Geisinger were named one of the semi-finalist teams in the Healthcare Informatics Innovator Awards program. A brief summary of the initiative can be found here, in the article on the nine semi-finalist teams. As mentioned in that article, the Geisinger IT leadership team “has been moving ahead to facilitate further work to improve outcomes and curb costs, through its project to create a Unified Data Architecture (UDA), in order to integrate all of the organization’s analytic platforms. After concepting the initiative, Geisinger leaders decided to create a big data (Hadoop) platform, as the foundation for the UDA, and as the first phase of the project. Within a year, the team established a big-data platform, based on Hadoop and other open-source components. Within that time, Geisinger project team members developed code for a source ingestion pipeline to pull in source data, perform necessary transformations, and load data into various views; and having done so, pulled in all of the source data currently populating the data warehouse (EDW), plus additional sources not in the EDW.”
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