Executive Perspectives in Healthcare – Garren Colvin and Gary Blank

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LC: How is St. Elizabeth using technology to better serve the patients?

GB: With the heart and vascular construction, we’ve opened up a hybrid operating room, which is all state-of-the-art and has already performed numerous new procedures in that area. We’ve added a specific high-tech cardiac MRI for the heart and vascular institute as well. We just recently replaced our 320 CT scanner with a state-of-the-art dual source CT scanner which produces better cardiac and other imaging. We probably have the lowest radiation dose platform in the market at this point in time, from a Cat Scan imaging perspective. When we purchased it, we were the 10th hospital in the country to purchase it and only the 2nd non-university facility to have it. So it’s a new emerging technology.

GC: We have implemented the MyChart system for outpatient visits. This gives our patients access to the same medical records their doctors use – it gives all of our patients the ability to go online and manage their healthcare. They can go online, using their personal login and protected password, and get results from testing within 24 hours. We put precautions in for adverse test results, of course. If there is a negative test result, that isn’t available for the patient to view immediately without communication from the physician’s office. But for normal outcomes, the result just drops right in, and the patient gets to see the results within 24 hours.

The other thing we are trying to do is meet the changing needs of our patients and our community. Our physician organization, St. Elizabeth Physicians, performs online visits, e-visits, so that our patients who would not have the ability to make it into their doctor’s offices on a given day can get access to immediate care. Of course, they have to have the technology, but through MyChart typically a patient can email his or her physician anything overnight and by the next day, the patient will have a response back. Patients can also set online appointments and schedule their own appointments. St. Elizabeth Physicians is piloting video visits as well right now.

LC: What are some of the challenges with running such a large organization?

GC: I think that the biggest challenge is the pressure that comes from outside the organization. Any time you have regulatory changes which affect reimbursement, the challenge is to maintain your operations given what is happening in terms of reduced reimbursement. That puts pressure on cost – so then, the struggle is how to cut costs out of your system without negatively affecting the quality of care or the people within your organization. We have great physicians and great employees, and maintaining their morale is of the utmost importance.

GB: I would agree, I think it’s balancing that and it’s also a challenge to continually look at how we provide care to make sure that we’re able to do things as effectively and efficiently as possible without compromising employee engagement and quality outcomes. That’s just a tough balancing act, because at the end of the day, we’re here to provide excellent, high quality patient care and trying to reengineer and redefine that can be challenging.

LC: What advice would you give to an individual in healthcare?

GC: From my perspective, if you take care of you patients, your employees and your physicians, the rest will take care of itself. Our associates love what they’re doing and they are in this business because they truly care about our patients.

GB: Typically it’s to step back and gather all of the information before jumping to a conclusion, but it’s usually process, it’s not people that cause problems or poor outcomes. So you always want to look at the processes first and try to really look at the root of an issue and fix it. Too, it’s really the one piece that I’ve always held on to during my career – it’s kind of the golden rule with a twist. It’s not ‘treat people the way I want to be treated’, it’s ‘treat people the way they would want to be treated’ and really assessing them and looking at everyone. Everyone has a value system, so you can’t take your value system and portray it on others – you have to really reach down deep enough to understand others’ values and what’s important to them before you can really be effective as a caregiver and a leader.


For more information about St. Elizabeth Healthcare visit www.stelizabeth.com