UHealth Holds Tenth UCare Leadership Development Institute

Thanks to patient access director Kassandra Lage and her UHealth colleagues, patients visiting medical campus clinics will encounter a swifter, more efficient registration process designed to get them into physicians’ offices quickly.

Thanks to the members of the “telephone standards” team that has been reviewing telephone practices and offering training when appropriate, patients and other customers of UHealth – University of Miami Health System will be guaranteed a pleasant greeting and superior service.

Waiting time for patients, whether on the telephone or in a doctor’s office, is just one of the many areas where UHealth is using the tools of its UCare Leadership Development Institute (LDI) to encourage first-class service to everybody who comes in contact with UHealth physicians and employees. Not only is prompt and courteous service good for the bottom line—it’s simply the right way to treat patients.

That message was reiterated again and again last week as UHealth held its tenth UCare LDI at University of Miami Hospital Seminar Center. Dozens of directors, managers, senior employees and physicians sat alongside Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., and his leadership team to highlight best practices and the employees who lead the efforts, determine how great ideas can be incorporated into every facet of the campus, motivate other employees, and discuss progress – such as the successful rollout of the UChart electronic medical records (EMR) system.

“This is the process that has a start but never ends,” said Dean Goldschmidt, who is also CEO of UHealth. “Whenever you try to improve the culture of an organization there’s simply no upper limit that you get to when you’re fixing the process. UCare requires commitment to continuous reinforcement and support. If you stop supporting and reinforcing, all the good things you build can deteriorate rapidly.”

As an indication of how important the seminars are, Dean Goldschmidt noted the presence of his senior leadership and the fact that UCare LDIs are already set for February, May, August and December of 2011.

“These meetings are now a big part of how we get things done in our organization and how we remind everybody not only of the successes, but also of the imperfections that still need work, in order to optimize the quality of our system,” the Dean continued. “I am very proud of the progress and the substantial commitment, from the top leadership to folks in the trenches, to making sure that we really provide our patients the best possible environment to receive care, and make sure the care is outstanding.”

With the purchase of the flagship University of Miami Hospital and the expansion of the University’s health offerings, the LDI was launched in 2008 and named UCare, to strengthen the culture of teamwork and excellence across the entire health system. Hundreds of management employees have participated in the sessions, which are held on a Thursday four times a year, and repeated the following Friday.

“These LDIs are critical to the success of our organization as we are able to communicate important achievements and initiatives that will be disseminated to all,” said Steven Falcone, M.D., M.B.A., associate vice president for medical affairs, chief operating officer for the University of Miami Medical Group, and associate executive dean for practice development, who discussed the organization’s “service pillars.”

UCare is built on Service Pillars of Excellence – service, people, quality, growth, finance, research and education. A principal tenet is training managers to incorporate best practices, including adequately motivating their staffs, and encouraging innovation.

At the Thursday session, William J. Donelan, vice president for medical administration and chief operating and strategy officer, pointed to Lage’s work at University of Miami Hospitals and Clinics and Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center as an example of the progress UCare has spurred. “This wasn’t simply throwing a bunch of people at a problem. This is really about taking advantage of what we learn here,” he told the group, adding the improvements resulted in such employee and patient satisfaction that leadership will consider the approach in other units.

The improvements in service quality taking place campus-wide have developed to a point where “we are no longer providing a lecture; employees are fully engaged, they are participating, they are owning the process and improving it every step we go,” according to Jacquelyn Liberto, executive director for strategic operations. She and Michele Chulick, associate vice president and executive director of clinical operations, are among the chief architects of UCare.

Fran Allen, associate vice president for regulatory compliance at University of Miami Hospital, says she frequently sees examples that show UCare is, indeed, being embraced throughout the health system.

“Consider our retooling of telephone etiquette that was discussed at the LDI,” Allen said. “It sounds simple at first, but it’s really a big deal because it’s the first point of contact for many of the people we serve. UCare is making all of us more accountable and that’s a central theme for good organizations working to be great.”

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