All I know is what I read in the papers. A recent issue of the AARP Bulletin had as its cover story, “Digital Medical Records Could Save Your Life—So Why Don’t We Have Them Yet?” We seem to experience digital data everywhere—even my JiffyLube just swipes my license to pull up my vehicle’s history, something like its medical record.  

Read more: Where's the Urgency for the Emergency?

“We the People…”  “I pledge allegiance…” One of the hallmarks of effective leadership is the ability to provide needed direction by putting into a few words the core values required by the mission. Nowhere is that more important than in American healthcare.  

Read more: Management Credo

I’m fascinated by a new program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center called Spirit, which stands for Solutions Promoting Improvement, Respect, Integrity, and Teamwork. In a nutshell, it’s a way to shift the folks at BIDMC away from solving problems with workarounds and toward finding their root causes.

Read more: That's the Spirit

On April 12, 2006, Massachusetts enacted historic healthcare reform legislation that would provide near universal coverage for its residents. Two years later, more than 340,000 previously uninsured individuals are now enrolled in health plans, the number of free-care hospital visits has decreased an estimated 28% statewide, and free-care funding has been slashed by $242 million.

Read more: Revolution Redux

Hospital executives are acutely aware of the negative effects that long ED wait times can have on their hospital’s reputation. Indeed, some hospitals are using their efficient EDs as a marketing tool, advertising a door-to-doc time guarantee. Scottsdale Healthcare in Arizona has taken things one step further, with wait times for each of its three facilities posted on its home page and updated every 10 minutes.

Read more: That Special Something

Wrong-site surgery problems—near misses and actual adverse events—occur every other day in healthcare facilities. That’s downright common for medical mistakes that are never supposed to happen in a thousand years. Over a 30-month period, the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority recorded 427 wrong-site surgery problems. Of those mistakes, 174 reached the patient in the operating room in the form of wrong-side surgeries, wrong body part surgeries, wrong procedures, and even entirely wrong patients. Yowza.

Read more: Do No Harm!

Half of the answer has to do with New Jersey’s unique healthcare model. In the land of Springsteen, you’ll find one of the nation’s most generous hospital safety nets. In 1991, NJ created a fund that compensates hospitals for the charity care they provide, a now $584 million well that more than 300,000 residents drink from each year to cover a portion or all of their healthcare costs (uninsured residents who don’t qualify for Medicare or Medicaid).

Read more: In Jersey, Healthcare's Bleak Future

In April, Health Workforce Solutions launched the Innovative Care Models Web site (www.innovativecaremodels.com). The site is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and contains a wealth of information about 24 successful care-delivery models, mainly centered around using nurses to coordinate patient care.

Read more: Nurses Unite

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