Patient Experience at the Focus of Expanding Community Health Care
By: Author: Richard Orlandi, MD | Oct 20, 2017 1:00 PM
University of Utah Health’s outpatient services have evolved significantly in recent years. It used to be that off-campus community clinics provided primary care only, while specialties remained on campus. Today, the health system is delivering about as much specialty care in community clinics as we are on campus—while creating more capacity for patients who need higher levels of care in our hospitals. This is precisely what U of U Health was aiming for: extending the critical services from the hospital campus into the community. And now we can hone in on a highly coordinated and multi-disciplinary approach to outpatient care that focuses on the patient experience. As these facilities develop to become the new model of health care, our students and trainees also have the opportunity to learn in the clinics that reflect the practices of the future.
Aligning for Better Patient Care
In 2016, Utah was the fastest growing state in the nation. To address the needs of our growing population and increased demand for health care, U of U Health continues to create access for patients along the Wasatch Front. Building more state-of-the art community health care facilities is an essential component to providing better care to our populations. Of equal importance is consistently providing a seamless, comprehensive experience for every patient by aligning the separate elements of our outpatient services.
Historically, health care has been organized into silos by specialty. For a physician, when a patient comes in, that’s a single event for the provider (one and done). The patient, on the other hand, experiences the system in a very different way. Because of the siloed structure, patients often find themselves bouncing around from provider to provider. In some cases, a patient may be treated by three people for related symptoms. If the coordination and communication isn’t there, the patient gets the impression that the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing.
Improving the flow of care and overall patient experience in our community health care centers depends on a highly collaborative, team-based approach to breaking down silos that exist in health care delivery. How can we be leveraging common Electronic Medical Records and a common organizational structure so that care is more efficient for the patient and provider? How can we avoid unnecessary duplication, like asking for family history five times at five separate visits?
A place where we want to deliver and receive care
Ultimately, I want to see us do everything that is humanly possible to make the patient experience as human as possible. We’re all in health care because we want to help people. And as such, the patient-provider experience is sacred. Everything about the outpatient infrastructure – from staff and equipment to finances and human resources – needs to build on this concept. For the patient and provider to have a great experience together, the human element always comes first. This makes for higher patient satisfaction, better outcomes and alleviates stress for both providers and staff.
Ten years ago, providers felt they had the “home-field advantage” by working at one location. Now, they are working in multiple locations and they don’t want to feel like a visitor when practicing in different health centers. In these environments, they need more multi-disciplinary partnerships with staff at each location who can team up with them and help them adjust to different approaches and styles of care.
We ask a lot of our health care professionals. Fortunately, U of U Health is a very innovative, entrepreneurial culture that allows us to create the structure that best meets the needs of our population. This environment gives providers and their teams on the front lines everything they need to achieve better health for their patients.
Building on our strengths
Our experience with U of U health centers in South Jordan and Farmington has proven that the addition of outpatient facilities to the health system allows providers to serve more patients in a more efficient, cost-effective setting. As a result, our health system is moving full speed ahead with efforts to make care more convenient and affordable.
Our health system is undergoing a significant period of change – both on and off campus. The medical campus is currently experiencing a massive transformation that will include a new Ambulatory Care Complex and Rehabilitation Hospital. To provide better services in more communities, the Madsen Health Center is being remodeled and construction has started on a 170,000-square-foot, five-story health center in the heart of Sugar House.
In 2019, University of Utah Health will open a 170,000-square-foot, five-story
health center in Sugar House.
At a highly visible and accessible location near I-80 and 1300 East, the Sugar House Health Center will anchor a new three-building development project formerly occupied by Shopko. Moving along quickly, the anticipated completion date is mid-2019.
The Sugar House Health Center will anchor the new three-building Park Ave project,
the largest economic development outside downtown Salt Lake City in years.
These physical changes can be disruptive in the short term, but ultimately they will enable us to continue improving how health care is practiced, taught and delivered—by focusing on making patient care as exceptional as it should be.comments powered by Disqus