No one would deny that our world is increasingly becoming digital, and most of us in health care would likely agree that what we want that digital world to do and what it actually does are often miles apart. With diligence and a focus on continuous improvement, health care IT systems in time will become smarter, more intuitive and less burdensome.
The question is: What can we do today to help our physicians practice great care?
We posed this question to our Medical Staff Advisory Council (your elected Medical Staff Leadership) and came up with an interesting proposal that is now fully supported by the health system: Hire a team of Advanced Care Practitioners (ACPs - Physician Assistants, or Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners) to help our physicians with our clinical excellence initiatives. More specifically, have these ACPs round on patients to implement the patient care you prescribe and to serve as an added resource to do the things we are not readily available to do ourselves. It’s an analog (human) solution to a contemporary problem.
It’s a profound idea. As credentialed and privileged members of the medical staff, these ACPs will work under the direction of the MEC in such a way as to assist our practicing physicians (with an emphasis on independent, non-contractually obligated physicians) in the delivery of great care. In talking it through, we learned that several hospitals either had this kind of support in the past (Winter Haven Hospital), are exploring this today (Morton Plant North Bay) or are adopting variations upon this theme (St. Joseph’s). In today’s language, we would focus these ACPs on the nine Truven metrics that are used to determine top hospital and top system performance. It seems almost too simple to have been overlooked.
Even more amazing is how quickly we, as a health system, have begun implementing this solution. In just six weeks we have crafted the job descriptions, created position codes and salary lines, approved the financials, created a cost center, developed an implementation team and are beginning interviews.
This is BayCare putting our money where our mouth is – now comes your part: Help us help you!
Let’s put these ACPs to work in material ways that drive our mutual commitment to clinical excellence. We have to avoid the temptation of relegating them to subordinate roles and use their skills in ways that free us up to be more effective and less burdened by computer challenges or system inefficiencies. It’s a better use of your own time, thus creating more resiliency for all of our physicians and perhaps even reducing physician burnout and frustration across the board.
As with any initiative in the early phases, there are still details to be worked out. But as a body of work commissioned by your medical staff leadership, this is an exciting opportunity to significantly move our clinical excellence agenda forward. Together, we can improve patient care, while getting a bit more balance in our lives, knowing you have both human and digital support in delivering great care all of the time.