Partners in Learning: Lake Health Helps Generate New Ideas and Opportunities

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By Joshua Scheller, MHA, RT(R)

December 2009 — The drive from Indianapolis to Lake Health just outside of Cleveland, OH gave me plenty of time to reflect on the upcoming visit and the ideas and potential improvements I could take back to my own hospital and health system. I’m very pleased to say that I was not disappointed. The visit was all that I had hoped for and then some.

Lake Health System is the primary healthcare provider for Lake County, OH and sits close to the banks of Lake Erie. The major competitors for Lake Health include university hospitals and Cleveland Clinic. The system performs approximately 200,000 exams each year and has 2 hospitals and several ambulatory sites of care. My contact for the visit was Diane Weber, director of radiology for the system.

My visit started at Lake West Medical Center, where I was greeted with warm smiles and a very welcoming attitude. I spent the first part of the day with the operations coordinator in the front office area of the department. This position had been created following a Lean project and was staffed by a technologist. The coordinator is responsible for all aspects of patient flow from the time they enter the department to their arrival at the testing modality. 

Radiology nursing has been expanded beyond the IR suite to include a nurse educator and a nurse dedicated to patient care, IV starts, review of labs and GFR, and sedation and associated monitoring. Patient wait times have been reduced and the productivity of the technologists has increased by the ability to focus their efforts on scanning rather than patient prep, paperwork, and other steps not directly associated with image acquisition. 

Following a tour of the department, Diane and I reviewed some of the strategic moves the system had implemented to promote growth and increase market share. Similar to the south Indianapolis market, Lake Health has many independent physicians that are not employed or closely aligned with a health system or network. In an effort to engage and build loyalty among those independent practitioners, Lake Health developed a Physician Hospital Organization (PHO). The PHO is a 50/50 joint venture between 240 community based physicians and the Lake Health Medical Centers. The PHO improves member physicians’ negotiating strength among insurance and managed care companies, reduces the need for continued authorization through a utilization management service, and provides an affordable electronic health record system even for the smallest office. Additionally, Lake Health has placed scheduling offices in several of the large physician practices to give patients a quick and easy way to schedule their testing at Lake Health.

The second half of the day was spent at Tri-Point Medical Center. Tri-Point is a new and state of the art medical center that was scheduled to open at the end of October 2009. The new facility will be replacing the Lake East campus located in Painesville, OH. I was able to tour the facility and review design concepts and goals. With significant construction in the plans for our hospital and other ambulatory sites, the review of the architectural design and layout was very valuable. The design focuses on providing a healing and open environment with an emphasis on natural lighting. The patient rooms are enhanced with significant family space and a decentralized nursing model for improved comfort and a focus on the patient. The radiology department was very spacious and designed for improved workflow and patient comfort.

The following day I was able to visit the Mentor campus that included a surgery center, cancer center, a full service imaging department including PET/CT, and a physician office pavilion. Lake Health has fully implemented self service check in through an interactive kiosk in the main lobby. The reduction in registration time for each patient was very impressive. Two weeks after installation, they had achieved an 80% utilization rate of the new system. 

Whether it is through an equipment site visit or educational offering, I have always enjoyed visiting other healthcare organizations because of the opportunity to learn. The Partners in Learning (PIL) program takes that opportunity to an even greater level. The ideas and concepts that I was able to take away from my visit are not only significant to me and my professional development, but also to the organization I work for. It was truly a great feeling to leave my visit at Lake Health excited and energized about the new ideas that I would be bringing back. My sincerest appreciation goes out to Diane and her staff for their hospitality and to GE for their sponsorship of the PIL program.


Joshua Scheller, MHA, RT(R) is the director of medical imaging for Community Hospital South in Indianapolis, IN. Joshua received his MHA from the University of Southern Indiana and is an active member of the AHRA and has contributed to Radiology Management. He may be contacted at jscheller@ecommunity.com

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