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Massini: Goals enhance quality, safety for patients

Penn State Health CEO Steve Massini sent the following email to Penn State Health employees today:

Dear colleagues,

Thank you to all who responded to my last CEO message asking for feedback on Penn State Health’s proposed mission and vision statements.

Many of you called out the word “citizens” in the draft mission statement:  To continually improve the health and well-being of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and beyond…

You rightly noted that we exist to improve the health and well-being of all people, not just those who are citizens. Thank you for speaking up. Your comments reinforced one of the positive themes in our recent employee engagement survey, which is that as an organization, we value diversity and inclusion.

In a perfect world, every patient who comes to us for care would have an exceptional experience every step of the way. They would receive the highest quality and safest care. Our communications and coordination with them and each other would be exemplary. And, because we did everything right, they would have the best possible outcome.

This scenario is the backdrop of the first of our organizational goals for fiscal year 2020. In September, the Penn State Health Board of Directors approved four primary goals for the current fiscal year: quality and safety, patient experience, employee satisfaction and financial performance. Each week in November, I’ll introduce you to one of the goals, as well as to a webpage that will track our progress throughout the year. The final week, you’ll hear about an organizational performance bonus program that will be tied to our success.

Today’s message focuses on Penn State Health’s 2020 goals to enhance quality and safety for our patients. Specifically, the goals are:

  • Reduce the rate of serious safety events by 2.5%
  • Reduce preventable inpatient mortality by 2.5%
  • Ensure that a minimum of 61% of our Medicare patients receive their annual wellness visit

We chose those goals because they are meaningful and measurable. A serious safety event is when a patient is seriously harmed because we didn’t do something right. Real examples include giving the wrong dose of a medication, delays in care, lack of communication among providers and not doing what we should have done to prevent a patient from falling.

Across our organization, we are working toward becoming a high-reliability organization, where care is delivered effectively, efficiently and predictably for every patient, every time. There are key things we can do to help get there: follow evidence-based practices, communicate and collaborate with colleagues, coordinate care and speak up when we see an unsafe situation. The challenge is staying focused amid the details of our daily lives. I appreciate that nearly 9,000 managers and employees across Penn State Health have undergone safety behavior training and are putting those lessons into practice. In fact, I participated in a meeting with the Joint Commission recently in which surveyors complimented our training program and our unwavering commitment to zero harm.

I also appreciate that nearly 200 employees have been recognized for safety behaviors through our new PAWS UP category of safety and reliability. Tom Curfman, an environmental health worker at Hershey Medical Center, was recognized for speaking up while cleaning a patient’s room. He noticed the patient was about to take his own home medications and asked him to wait until he could call a nurse, which he did.

A few examples of actions all of us can take to enhance safety and quality:

  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Speak up when you see something unsafe.
  • Get a flu shot.

Next week, I’ll talk about patient experience. In the meantime, here’s my request: Please send me your ideas of ways that we can contribute to our quality and safety goal. It can be something you and your colleagues are already doing or something fresh we can try. With each future CEO message, I’ll share your tips so that we can learn from each other.

Thank you for all that you do, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Steve Massini

Chief Executive Officer

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