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In This Issue:
Betsy Nabel, MD, with Judith Saykin, RN, during recent Patient Safety Walkrounds on Tower 11.
BWH President Betsy Nabel, MD, sat down with BWH Bulletin to reflect on the successes and challenges of the past year—her first as president—and to discuss what's on the horizon for BWH in 2011. She spoke of many personal and institutional highlights of 2010, including the pleasure she had in meeting hundreds of BWHers. With optimism and enthusiasm, she discussed the initiatives that BWH will engage in this year to proactively position itself for future success during challenging economic times, coupled with other changes as national health care reform takes shape. Nabel described the talented and dedicated BWHers as the hospital's most important asset—and what sets it apart as a world-renowned academic medical center.
Q. This month marks your one-year anniversary as president. As you reflect on the past year, what are some of the highlights and challenges that you faced in 2010?
A. First, my delight in being back at the Brigham has only grown since I arrived last January. 2010 was a remarkable year in so many ways, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know so many people throughout the organization—and reconnecting with those I knew when I trained here nearly 30 years ago. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for the passion, commitment and hard work that individuals here demonstrate every single day.
Every opportunity that I had to meet and greet employees was a personal highlight. I also immensely enjoyed our celebrations together, including the Employee Service Awards in June and Partners in Excellence Awards in December, which were wonderful occasions to celebrate your hard work. And, of course, Street Beat was certainly a blast!
For me, one of the first challenges of the year was our Joint Commission survey just one month after I began. This challenge was also an opportunity for me to learn more about the strengths of this wonderful organization. And though I was so new at the time, we were well-prepared because of the leadership efforts of so many employees.
I was proud, but not surprised, to see how employees' commitment to providing the best patient care and continuously striving to improve deeply impressed the surveyors.
Q. What challenges do we face this year, and are we prepared to meet them?
A. There's no doubt that we will continue to deal with pressures brought on by health care reform and the national economy. We have already begun charting a course, through our BW/F strategic planning initiative, to address challenges proactively and position ourselves for success.
One of our major goals is to create more affordable care while maintaining quality and safety. Patient affordability and care redesign are both important elements of the BW/F strategic planning process. Employees will hear much more about strategic planning in the coming months as our steering committees outline their goals and strategies. The BW/F strategic planning effort, which coincides with a similar strategic planning process at Partners HealthCare, focuses on all four of our primary mission areas— patient care, research, teaching and community service—to take advantage of the opportunities created by a changing economic environment.
Q. In addition to strategic planning, what other initiatives, projects and plans are in store for 2011?
A. One exciting project is the planning for a new building on the Massachusetts Mental Health Redevelopment Project site, which we are referring to as our "Building for the Future" until we officially name it. After constructing the two Department of Mental Health buildings on Binney and Vining streets, we will proceed with our Building for the Future, which will primarily serve as a research building.
This building will fulfill two important strategic goals. First, it will save us money as we consolidate some of the many leases for research space that we have throughout the city. These leases are expensive, and bringing many of them under our own roof will result in cost-savings. Secondly, it will enhance collaboration among researchers and facilitate the translation of their discoveries into patient care. As we enter the era of genomic and personalized medicine, the Building for the Future will help us to expand our capabilities to make medical discoveries and quickly bring them to the patient's bedside.
Q. You launched a PikeNotes page, called Dr. Nabel's Notes, and hosted the inaugural Town Meeting last year. Why was this important?
A. First and foremost, our employees are our most important resource and asset. This spring, the results of the Employee Opinion Survey indicated that employees would like greater access to hospital leadership.
Both the Town Meeting that took place in December and the Dr. Nabel's Notes website are avenues to provide employees with an opportunity to learn about what's going on at BW/F and hear my thoughts about where the institution is headed, as well as to ask questions and offer suggestions about what we might do better.
I am delighted so many have come forward with suggestions about how to improve the patient experience and save money, both through AskDrNabel@partners.org and at the Town Meeting. I am very grateful for all of the suggestions I have received. Front line staff have great insights about changes—big and small—that we can make to improve efficiency or service.
Q. Have positive changes transpired as a result of employees' inquiries and suggestions?
For example, Dora Gonzalez at Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center e-mailed me with an idea to decrease paper use by eliminating hard copies of reports that already are distributed electronically via the LMR. Leaders at the health centers and in Radiology are working to make Dora's suggestion a reality.
And at the Town Meeting, Olabisi Animashaun, who works in Ambulatory Registration, told us how difficult it is to field calls from patients who have been transferred multiple times. Our IS team, along with Registration and Telecommunications, found that the Patient Service Center was not clearly identified as the number for phone registration in the Partners Phone Directory. The team clarified the numbers listed for registration so that operators can quickly identify the correct number to direct callers to. Olabisi reports that she has noticed a decrease in these calls, which is most gratifying.
These are just two examples. I look forward to hearing from many more of you if you have a suggestion or an idea at AskDrNabel@partners.org
Q. What is your overarching vision for the hospital?
A. My hope is that at some point during my presidency, when an employee is asked what they do, they will respond that their job is to deliver excellent service to patients and families, and that as a hospital, we are building the future of health care together.
No matter our position, we are all united by our common purpose, rather than our specific functions. We are here to work together to fulfill the mission that is woven throughout the fabric of the institution. Whether you take direct care of a patient, work in a lab, or manage our information systems, we all have the privilege of playing a role in service to patients and their families.
Q. When people outside of the Brigham ask you about the hospital, how do you describe it to them?
A. I tell them it's a phenomenal hospital filled with bright, talented, committed individuals who, each and every day, deliver the best care to patients and families, make extraordinary discoveries that are applied to patient care and educate the brightest and best to be our medical and scientific leaders in the future. We also are very engaged in our community, both locally and globally.
Most importantly, we have great "esprit de corps" here. People truly enjoy coming to work every day and connecting with their colleagues—there's a great sense of collaboration, teamwork, trust and confidence in the abilities of the organization.
Q. Do you have any personal goals or resolutions for the coming year that you'd like to share with the BWH community?
A. As a heart doctor, I'm very passionate about wellness and prevention. We have many great efforts along those lines here at the hospital already. One of my personal goals is to support additional efforts for our employees in making sure there are plenty of opportunities for them to make healthy lifestyle choices.
Join President Betsy Nabel, MD, as she reflects on her one year anniversary at BWH, Thursday, Jan. 27 at noon in the Bornstein Amphitheater.