Observing a New Business Model

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By Kim Chaltry, MBA, CNMT, RT(R)

I was fortunate enough to be chosen as a participant in the Partners in Learning program with Scottsdale Healthcare in Scottsdale, Arizona. This match could not have made a girl from Michigan happier. I met with Julie Hughes, the radiology systems director, and her team in October and could finally say I had experienced summer! Julie has a way of making you feel so welcome and comfortable that by the end of my stay, I felt like I had a new friend and mentor.

My goal was to observe a healthcare system of different size hospitals. I wanted to see their workflows and how they manage through the limitations we have all been put under. There were also some processes that aren’t working well for my department, and I was hoping to get ideas that I could implement upon my return. I started the day off with Julie giving me an overview of the Scottsdale Healthcare System and the three hospitals I would be touring: Shea, Thompson Peak, and Osborn Medical Center. They have recently gone through a merger with two additional hospitals from John C. Lincoln to become a five hospital system.

I spent my first day at the Shea campus, which is a 433 bed hospital. I attended their directors’ daily huddle with the VP they all report to. They reported measurements related to quality, safety, delivery of service, and financial stewardship, and also shared reminders of important information that needs to get out to staff such as Ebola updates and upcoming PPE training sessions. I particularly liked how each huddle starts with a few quick stress relief exercises. At the end of the 15 minute meeting, each member reports their stress level. It was nice to see how important employee wellbeing is to the executive team.

Next we headed back to the radiology department. The entire radiology leadership team was very accommodating and shared knowledge of their perspective areas as they took me on a tour. Julie and her team have worked very hard and long to create a cohesive department that spans across the three hospitals. This means that the equipment is the same in the nuclear medicine department no matter which hospital you are working at, which makes it very easy for the techs to float where they are needed based on volumes and staffing. The same goes for the CT, ultrasound, and general procedure departments. This process keeps the department very Lean but functional.

I think the most enlightening aspect of my visit, and one that took me awhile to wrap my head around, was the joint venture between an outpatient radiology imaging center called SMIL and the Scottsdale Healthcare system. Rather than compete with each other for patients, almost all outpatients are sent to SMIL, and the healthcare system gets a financial percentage. I heard time and time again “it’s better to be guaranteed a piece of something than to get nothing at all.” There are still a few outpatient procedures that the hospital performs, such as myelograms, that are too risky and involved to be done in an outpatient clinic, but for the most part you only see emergency and inpatients within the departments.

My time at Thompson Peak was a “wow”. This place looked like I was checking into a vacation lodge for the day. The décor and atmosphere were so not typical of a hospital setting, with a lot of native stone and water features and quiet sitting niches around every corner. The director Michael Sclafani and I spent time talking about the challenges of leadership and the future of medical imaging. Again I felt like I had met someone that I could call on for professional advice or questions.

Later in the day we headed over to the third hospital (Osborn) where I was fortunate enough to attend a corporate meeting for all of the directors and mangers from the entire system. It was comforting to see that the concerns of budgets, mergers, supply cost and staffing were something we all struggle with.

This experience was very valuable to me. It really opened my eyes to a different business model that I would have never thought of for a hospital. The centralized staffing matrix between the three hospitals and the cohesiveness it created between them was another valuable insight for me as well.  I can’t thank AHRA and GE Healthcare enough for this wonderful opportunity. To Julie Hughes and her team as well as all the staff who were so cordial to me during my visit, you have given me something that will remain a highlight of my career- thank you from “the girl from Michigan.”

Kim Chaltry, MBA, CNMT, RT(R) is the supervisor of nuclear medicine, echocardiology and film library at Port Huron Hospital in Port Huron, MI.  She can be reached at kchaltry@porthuronhospital.org.

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