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A hospital is a business that sits at the crossroads of the biggest challenges of our current environment -- the health care, educational, and economic crises
Talk about a balancing act. Ronald Peterson, CEO of Johns Hopkins Hospital, runs a business that sits at the crossroads of the biggest challenges of our current environment -- the health care, educational, and economic crises. Yet, he has been able to hold the line against layoffs, keep his institutional profitable, and tend to the uninsured -- all the while maintaining its standing as the number-one top-ranked hospital in the nation.
When asked by Dean Tsouvalis in a recent interview for the secret of his success, Peterson's reply was unequivocal: hire and nurture the best talent you can find. “When times get tough, instead of just lopping off people, we try to understand opportunities to improve processes,” he says.
Peterson should know about managing tough environments. He transformed the former Baltimore City Hospital into John Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, turning a $7-million-a-year deficit into $5 million profit a year.
He was able to accomplish this at a medical center that cares for half a million patients a year, many of whom are uninsured. In terms of resolving the health care issue, he advocates that hospitals such as Johns Hopkins assume end-to-end coverage and care of sections of the population.
His advice for managing these demands provides a lesson for all types of businesses: “Manage the cost side of the business more closely,” he says, while focusing on examining processes and streamlining them without cutting staff. “In a hospital setting, many of the things we do to ultimately care for patients involve multiple departments and processes that cut across many departments, so attention to process improvement was needed.”
Nov 9, 2009
I applaud Ronald Peterson, CEO of Johns Hopkins Hospital, for doing the hard work. The path he chose is so much harder, but rewarding, than "slash and burn" or layoff and cut services. He is honestly earning his salary, bonuses and accolades. He is the rare bright spot in American management.
Peterson is so right. Having worked in hospitals for 10 years I can give first hand accounts of wasted time, effort, and resources (both human and material) that occurs on a daily basis at most medical institutions. Example: A patient has a timed lab test that must be drawn at an exact time in order to be of use. Someone from the lab goes to collect it and the patient is in X-ray and unavailable for the next hour. The test may or may not get canceled or rescheduled therefore the patient may or may not be charged. And there is still the question of the lab's time and effort in meeting the needs of the testing environment plus the efforts to make certain the test is canceled or rescheduled. This probably takes about 10 to 15 minutes of several people's time. Multiply this by the number of times this can occur in a day (in a packed hospital it can happen numerous times in a 24 hour period)and then determine how much that costs the hospital over a year. What a waste.