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University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center transforms total patient experience with new Innovation Unit

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Hospital pilots “next-generation” patient care model for entire UH system

GEAUGA COUNTY – University Hospitals (UH) Geauga Medical Center has been selected by University Hospitals senior leadership to revolutionize the health system’s care delivery processes and take the patient experience to an even higher level.

To achieve these goals, UH Geauga Medical Center has created an “Innovation Unit.” The unit applies proven best practices in care access, patient engagement and program redesign to achieve greater efficiencies while maintaining the highest quality of care and enhancing patient satisfaction.

Following the implementation of each phase of the Innovation pilot program at the hospital, the successful new concepts will be launched within University Hospitals throughout Northeast Ohio.

The initiative began in 2013 with the designation of UH Geauga Medical Center as the Innovation Unit site by University Hospitals leadership. The community hospital’s unit is led by Peggy Kuhar, RN, MSN, FABC, Chief Nursing Officer; Howard Darvin, MD, FACS, Division Chief, Vascular Surgery; interventional cardiologist Gregory Stefano, MD; cardiologist Robert E. Botti, MD; and Rick Keleman, BSN, RN, Nurse Manager, Emergency Department.

“University Hospitals’ vision calls for input from our patients, families and community members to be the primary driver of the initiatives we develop,” says Kuhar. “Their voices are being heard and supported by the involvement of key UH Geauga Medical Center physician, nursing and support staff.”

Last fall, the Innovation team held a forum where members of UH Geauga Medical Center’s Patient-Family Advisory Council and former inpatients were asked to offer ideas about service enhancements. “We invited them to constructively help us redesign every aspect of the patient experience continuum, from preadmission to discharge and beyond,” says Kuhar.

Their suggestions included:

  • Simplified hospital registration, especially for patients who receive recurring care.
  • Updating necessary hospital physicians about a patient’s case upon admission so tests and lab work can be ordered and performed immediately.
  • Coordination of and detailed communication about tests and procedures to be performed, including a posted schedule in patient rooms to provide clear expectations.
  • The creation of a dedicated point of communication at the hospital to facilitate consistent follow-up after discharge, even if a patient or family member merely has a question.

Armed with this feedback, the Innovation Unit began testing new processes at UH Geauga Medical Center. One involved the introduction of a Patient Navigator; a liaison who is an accessible resource at every step along a patient’s care journey.

“This initiative is all about our patients’ comfort, awareness and peace of mind,” says Dr. Darvin. “We want them to know we are there for them and that we will address any concern they have on the way to exceeding their expectations.”

To effect an ongoing, impactful evolution of the patient experience, the UH Geauga Medical Center Innovation Unit resolves to think differently. “This new model of care we are developing together, as a staff and as a community, requires us to continuously learn from what our patients have to say about how we care for them,” says Dr. Stefano. “The ideas that come from that learning will be transferable to the entire University Hospitals system.”

“An exceptional patient experience leads to increased safety and enhanced quality of medical care,” adds Kuhar, “and that results in even better outcomes.”

Ultimately, the Innovation Unit is designed to be the catalyst in creating the next generation of care within UH. “We are proud to be a hospital that already delivers on our priorities of patient safety, outcomes and satisfaction,” says M. Steven Jones, President, UH Geauga Medical Center. “Now we are excited to be empowered to build these new programs at our facility on behalf of every patient and family University Hospitals serves.”

To learn more about the UH Geauga Medical Center Innovation Unit and how you can offer your patient experience ideas, call Peggy Kuhar, RN, Chief Nursing Officer, at 440-285-6140.

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