Top Five Priorities, Revisited
Today I will talk about our top five strategic priorities for the current fiscal/academic year. These should be no surprise; they are the same as last year’s! These are long-term goals and so it’s to be expected that they will be achieved in a period of years, if not decades.
I’ll begin by saying we have made GREAT progress in these five crucial areas during the last year. This is attributable to your hard work and dedication to those we serve. Thank you.
Clinical Quality Improvement
Clinical quality improvement, including patient safety, continues to be our top goal. I am very proud of our progress on our quality journey and look forward to building continued momentum this year.
During his recent visit, Dr. Mark Chassin, head of the Joint Commission, reminded us that “chasing zero” harm to our patients requires involvement of ALL employees. And you have been responding to that challenge. Our quality metrics have improved significantly during the last two years: Hand hygiene compliance is consistently around 80 percent with many locations regularly at 85 percent. Hospital-acquired infections are down about 60 percent with an increasing number of locations achieving long periods of zero. And complications, also called patient safety indicators, are consistently fewer than 10 per month.
We’ve talked about becoming a “high reliability” organization and that journey is continuing this year, with three key components:
- Leadership engagement
- A culture of safety attained by improving trust , and
- Robust process improvement, with further training and implementation in 2019.
This platform brings focus to setting priorities with defined goals and targets, and standardizing how we work to achieve them using proven performance improvement tools. The goal is to implement a common, integrated approach to process improvement and change management to address persistent and complex quality and safety issues.
Patient-centered care is a key element of quality improvement – what we do must benefit patients. A new focus in 2019 is the revitalized and independent Office of Patient Experience. All employees have a role in improving our patients’ experience and this new focus requires all groups to define, understand and implement their roles. Patient Experience will emphasize interaction between all employees and patients and the engagement of patients and families in improving the safety and quality of care.
Collaboration with Other Health Systems
We have begun to develop momentum in this area as well. I’m thankful to our physician leaders, particularly the Council of Clinical Chairs, for their input, guidance and leadership.
In January we formed an affiliation agreement with Anderson Regional Medical Center in Meridian, and last month a similar relationship with Oktibbeha County Hospital in Starkville. Other collaborative relationships are now under active consideration, so you can expect more to come.
Building collaborative relationships with health systems and physician groups across the state, when we’re invited and where it’s mutually beneficial, serves several important purposes. For one thing, collaborations help community hospitals in Mississippi face the challenges of current socioeconomic shifts and today’s rapidly changing health care landscape. These relationships, for example, help rationalize resource and capacity issues. That means certain services can be shared, resulting in less expensive delivery of care for both parties. It also means patients can more often receive routine care in a hospital or a provider’s office close to home, while the sickest patients can come here for care at UMMC . . . all the better for the patients.
In a broader sense, as the state’s only academic medical center with the state’s only Children’s Hospital, we feel a strong sense of responsibility to take the lead in organizing health care in Mississippi in a way that, as much as possible, benefits all Mississippians. Collaborations provide a statewide footprint that facilitates that effort. UMMC, uniquely positioned as a trusted partner, has an obligation to lead, along with other state-based systems, for the best interest of all Mississippians.
Children’s of Mississippi Expansion
When you look over the construction site adjacent to Batson Children’s Hospital, the progress we have made since last December’s groundbreaking is breathtaking. The foundation work is well under way and the construction crane is in place to begin erecting the steel skeleton of the tower. The project continues to be on schedule for completion in August 2020 with operations beginning that fall.
Meanwhile, our fundraising continues to mount toward our $100 million goal. We stand at about two-thirds of the way there, at $66 million. I’m especially pleased that our own Children’s of Mississippi employees have chipped in to help us reach our goal. Nearly 40 percent have pledged at least $100 toward the drive. I’m grateful to all who have participated thus far.
Expansion of Children’s services is not limited to the physical expansion on the Jackson campus. We continue to grow our subspecialty services in other parts of Mississippi, most recently in the Gulf Coast area. Many of our affiliation partners have a particular interest in our helping to bring advanced pediatric care to the communities they serve.
Strategic Academic Growth
We continue to look for opportunities to grow our academic programs where this makes sense based on the health care workforce needs of the state or to enrich offerings to our current students.
Although enrollment numbers are not final for most of our schools, we will have the largest class of entering medical students in our history. We have gradually built the infrastructure required to support this class size, including the new medical education building opened last year.
We expect some of our affiliation activities to result in additional clinical training sites for learners, especially in regard to our residency programs. In fact, if we do not increase residency training opportunities in Mississippi then some of those additional medical graduates who wish to remain in the state for residency may have to look elsewhere. Fortunately, many of the community hospitals we’ve been working with are eager to bring graduate medical education to their facilities.
Additional areas of opportunity include strengthening our workforce through appropriate training and professional development. And we would like to explore additional joint degree options offered in concert with Ole Miss. A master’s in health care economics is one such program, to be offered through the John D. Bower School of Population Health next year.
Mayo Clinic Partnership
Recent trips here by the Mayo team and visits to Rochester, Minnesota, by our team signal the continuation of our efforts to draw closer across our research enterprise. The most tangible sign is the construction of a Clinical Research and Trials Unit in University Hospital. To prepare for the opening of the CRTU next summer, we are building a unified clinical trials management software system to link their Epic research encounters with ours.
Other initiatives in progress include piloting a clinical pharmacogenomic process across both campuses that will allow us to use a patient’s genome to optimize therapy; establishing co-governance of our combined biobanks to enhance access for researchers on both campuses; developing a combined psychiatry biobank; and creating a joint clinical study to provide more precise measures of obesity.
Finally, The MIND Center led by Dr. Tom Mosley and the Mayo Alzheimer’s group led Dr. Ronald Petersen are jointly building the National Study of Aging.
These are our top five priorities. There are many other things we need to do, and will do, such as enhancing the wellbeing of our employees and students. But these five can be considered the most crucial to our future success. Thank you for all the work you are doing to help us get them done, and to help us reach A Healthier Mississippi.