Patience with patients! A CEO that gets it!

At a recent meeting of the local Indian American Chamber of Commerce this past January, the new President & CEO of Mercy Health Partners, Dr. Yousuf Ahmad (who was the keynote speaker for the evening) spoke about his journey to the CEO spot at Mercy; from arriving in the United States in his teens and adapting culturally through the years in Kentucky and south western Ohio, to his focus on being able to leverage data during his time as CIO, and move Mercy Health deftly through the challenges of MU 1 and now navigate through MU Stage 2; the topic of patient engagement arose and how Mercy has towards being an ACO and how he places a high degree of value on physician empathy towards their patients in today’s continuum of care.

Listening to his keynote, I realized how now, more than ever it was even more important to share clinical and operational best practices across the healthcare community and for care provider leaders to share their experiences on implementing different elements of technology necessary for their initiatives, such as building and supporting a successful ACO. I was recently privileged to have that opportunity during the ICD-10 project I managed last year and have seen our care provider IT departments collaborating to help make sure that they can assist their fellow care delivery organizations meet their project and regulatory objectives.

Yousuf spoke about the need to understand the data requirements needed to support care, such as the 91% patient experience quality metric he mentioned that Mercy Health is able to derive from their physicians showing empathy towards their patients and the success he mentioned to a question I posed of his patient engagement initiatives for MU Stage 2. In short, he is able to tie his metrics with the quality of care the patient population his organization serves. What are the challenges they have with interoperability, especially with other care provider organizations, both urban & rural and health information exchanges in order to better and more efficiently coordinate care?

The role of, and need for empathy within the care delivery environment was described was evident to all during his talk and he was an amazing evangelist for his organization’s mission, both operationally and for information technology and the positive initiatives he has spearheaded over the short time he has been it’s operational leader.

During the Q&A session afterward, I made a comment that I applauded the fact that he had tied bonus incentives for Mercy’s physicians and making sure they focused on a better patient experience for the organization meeting it’s regulatory MU goals even though they would have had challenges in culturally changing the way in which some physicians may be working and relating to their patients now, but ultimately, through great patient care and compassion, his organization will march on towards their plans of expansion and as an excellent regional healthcare provider. I had the chance later that evening, to take a poll from some of the physicians that were present during the keynote and they all concurred that while they were inundated with all of the regulatory challenges currently, their ability to interact and positively connect with their patients was paramount for their initiatives to succeed.

With the news coming out over the last few days that interoperability will be the focus for the newly appointed national coordinator for health information technology, Karen DeSalvo, MD, the focus on better health through information technology assumes so much more significance as we transition towards a technology prevalent care provider environment where the patient is, and will remain, the center of attention.

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