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Interview with Kathleen Benner, Part II: Stars in the Long-Term View Include Delnor in Geneva, Ill.

Posted by ClearDirections on March 29th, 2011 in Communication, Hospital Management, Lack of Coordination | No Comments

After reading about Kathleen Benner, the vibrant and energetic president of Hospital Companions and Empowering Pages, both of which are based in Hinsdale, IL, in a Crain’s Chicago Business article last year, I connected with her to find ways to help her healthcare startup. She also is an attorney and mother of three with her entrepreneur husband, all who keep her balanced. To view more about her healthcare businesses, visit http://hospitalcompanions.com/ and http://empoweringpages.com/.  Her companies’ mission is to bring peace of mind to both the patients and families they serve. Read on to hear more about her ideas to help you become a “Best Competitor.”

Stillman: Where have you seen a lot of advancements in healthcare, such as in the hospital environment, like the Planetree model and effective use of the medical home?  Are you seeing a lot of that in the Midwest in the hospitals you’re talking with here, or more in different pockets of the country?

Benner: I have to say that Delnor’s a Planetree hospital, and we’ve been out there once, and that’s a great environment.  Central DuPage Hospital has instituted some new concepts when they built their new wing and really made it a more comfortable kind of family-enhanced atmosphere.  The best place that we have seen, the leading edge, is Mayo in Phoenix.  They do a damn good job.  It’s a team approach, and it is a medical home team, and the team gets together and talks.  They do a real fine job escorting the family coming out, and keeping the communication in a big file together for the doctor that you’re going back to.  That doctor is always welcome to call.

Physicians who have reached a pinnacle in their career and are very good at what they do seem much more open to helping others.  Those who are the best in their field seem to feel this obligation to spread their knowledge, and they do.  They do a nice job at Mayo, which is not a surprise.

Stillman: That’s great to hear, because I do find that there are pockets of expertise in the country, and I think that the Midwest by far has quite a bit of work to do compared to the coasts and the South.  I know from looking at many hospital organizations, looking at new buildings as far as just green design and Planetree design, there’s not a lot of it here.

Benner: You would think that they would have at this point figured out that their bottom line will be affected.  Now, I know it’s not a direct effect necessarily, but I know when I had a heart issue a couple years ago, I found the best darn heart doctor for the electrical issue I had.

I ended up at University of Chicago, with the best doctor, but not the best care environment.  Now, if I were to do it all again, would I go back to him?  Yes, I would, because we’re talking about my heart.  But, if I am going to have an chronic issue where I’m was going to be in and out and need care, and I’ll need support, my family will need support, you really, if you have a Planetree approach or a patient-centered care approach, you are going to get a better outcome.

So, maybe hospitals aren’t seeing it because the urgency versus the experience.  As educators in the industry, we need to create that nexus for people between experience and outcome.

Stillman: I believe one of the problems is that view is not long enough.  The leadership is looking at today’s bottom line versus someone’s long-term health status, and it is easy to forget that the impact they have today on someone’s health for the rest of their lives. So there’s just no incentive because the hospital leadership is incentivized to keep this year’s bottom line intact.

Benner: Right.  Now, if they’re having a wonderful experience and there’s good communication, they’re going in for their follow-up.  They’re not readmitted.  So yes, if we could create a nexus where you show the effect and bottom line impact, we’d be able to change how the hospital business is run.

Stillman: Longitudinal projections of how a good experience today impacts your health 20 years from now, and then be able to quantify that.  I think that would be an amazing study.

In our next post, you’ll hear more of our interview with Kathleen Benner of Hospital Companions and Empowering Pages.  Subscribe to the Best Competitor Blog to read stimulating ideas for improving the American healthcare system and ways hospitals, systems, large medical groups and healthcare product manufacturers can better compete in today’s marketplace. We welcome your suggestions for future interview subjects or topics. Simply leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!

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