How UH is Designing Care Around Patients
June 12, 2023
Five years ago, University Hospitals made the pivotal decision to embark on the Ahuja Phase 2 project. We made the bold choice to invest significant resources to improve access to UH health care for Northeast Ohio residents and families. It was no small vision – a project that would almost double the footprint of UH Ahuja Medical Center.
We couldn’t have known then that our mammoth construction project would coincide with a once-in-a-generation pandemic, or that the pandemic’s financial shocks would reverberate through our health system in such a challenging and persistent way. As UH caregivers, you’ve felt these shocks, even as construction at UH Ahuja has continued.
Now that Ahuja Phase 2 is open for business and serving patients, I want to thank you for your patience and dedication as we have navigated these challenging times. Ahuja Phase 2 is our latest innovation as all of us at UH are redefining the role of health care and how we engage our patients and community as their expectations change.
To be sure, we in health care are not typically known for making things easy and convenient for consumers. Health systems can be a confusing maze, not designed with the patient journey in mind. However, Ahuja Phase 2 breaks UH out of that tired mold. The new UH Cutler Center for Men, for example, reimagines the entire experience for a man visiting the doctor, with seemingly small but important changes to get men more engaged in their own health care. Everything has been redesigned with the patient in mind, from a revamped check-in process, to the comfortable waiting area with a pool and foosball table, to the patient concierges dubbed “Joes,” who help men navigate the UH services they need.
At the same time, the new Steve and Loree Potash Women & Newborn Center brings higher-level maternity and neonatal care in an easily accessible location on the eastside of Cleveland, while offering spacious and spa-like labor and delivery rooms in the Danielle and Michael Weiner Maternity Suite that are designed to support each family’s individual birth plan, whatever it may be. The Richard Horvitz and Erica Hartman-Horvitz Level II Special Care Neonatal Unit also puts families and consumer at the center of the design of care, putting babies and their families together with private rooms, so family members can stay close to baby.
UH Drusinsky Sports Medicine Institute at UH Ahuja is another example of designing care around different people in different ways. It literally brings a 45-yard sports field to athletes who need sports medicine care, rehabilitation and physical therapy, including from 70 area high schools and colleges.
These new offerings at UH Ahuja put people and their different needs, preferences and attitudes at the center of care. But we’re also making many patient-centered changes to better meet our patients’ needs that extend far beyond any physical building. One key area is access. In a world where you can search for and buy what you want in just a few clicks or easily schedule an appointment for virtually anything online, we in health care must keep up.
Here at UH, we take this charge seriously. We’re investing in people and technology to streamline the appointment scheduling process to make it more seamless for patients who are seeking care at UH. Lisa Griffin’s Care Connection Access team, for example, now has 10 specialized scheduling pods, such as a pod for neurology or one for cardiology. Although invisible to the patient, these pods allow schedulers to gain expertise with the specialty. Patients are routed to the appropriate pod with a question from an interactive voice assistant when they call. They simply speak normally about the appointment they’d like to schedule – or they can opt easily to talk to a person instead. No more are there multiple phone calls to make a single appointment.
Patient-centered changes like these will only accelerate as Epic rolls out completely, with patients able to easily book their own appointments from the MyChart app. Plans are also in the works to make receiving care even more convenient for our patients by locating primary care and specialty care in the same building. Our own data shows that patients are willing to drive slightly longer distances to see the provider they want, but that they do also appreciate the convenience of the “one-stop-shop.”
These are just a few examples of how UH is putting the patient at the center of care; there are undoubtedly many, many others. As you go about your busy work lives at UH, think of ways we can all continue in the journey to be truly patient-centric. Maybe it’s just as simple as asking patients more questions about what they appreciate in getting care at UH – and where we haven’t met their needs, what can we do to improve. When we’re all engaged together with our patients, everyone can be part of the solution.