October 16, 2014

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I’ve been privileged over these past fourteen years to have a front-row seat at the quarterly meetings of what has to be among the nation’s hardest working and successful hospital board of trustees. Here’s a brief report on the most recent meeting of our 14-member NCH Board, led by Chair Mariann MacDonald.

  • We started with the Finance Committee’s report on the busiest and most successful year in NCH history, with market share increase and a best-ever operating profit margin—the measure of success in sustaining and enhancing our financial health. Meanwhile, our balance sheet—the measure of our total worth—has increased by 350% since 2000. That’s testimony to the diligence of everyone who has worked so hard to ensure that NCH is in better financial condition than most other healthcare systems.

  • Next we had a guest lecture entitled “Retail vs. Healthcare: What Can Be Learned from Other Industries,” from Chris Holt, CEO of the Upper midwest Voluntary Hospital Association (VHA).  NCH is part of a 42-member healthcare system, 175-hospital buying consortium, including the Mayo Clinic, which together purchase over $2.3 billion in supplies.  Chris along with Becky Blaesing, NCH’s expert liaison from the VHA, shared a few war stories of how healthcare systems like ours are trying to more wisely manage their costs for supplies and services in the face of increasing calls on limited resources.

  • Chief Strategy Officer Michael Riley reviewed our 2015 strategic plan and our five priority areas: (1) Patient Satisfaction, (2) Physician Partnership, (3) Lean Transformation/Information Technology, (4) Population Health (The Blue Zone Project), and (5) Mayo affiliation.  Our Cerner partner Jeff Dindak reviewed NCH’s computer security and the recent flurry of medical identification theft incidents. Jeff concluded that we appear to be fine but must remain vigilant in testing and securing.

  • Mike Riley and Director of Public Relations Debbie Curry reviewed our early initiatives in social media, which is, of course, best known for connecting with friends and family and also for finding those with similar interests and directions.  We’d like to use social media to help influence healthcare decisions.

  • The Board Quality and Patient Satisfaction Committee shared our most recent awards, including HIMSS Level 7, Chest Pain Center Designation, and an upcoming Florida Hospital Association Quality Summit presentation in Orlando. Our Quality Scorecard is a good one, with patient satisfaction trending better but remaining a challenge. NCH patient satisfaction has improved but not as quickly as other systems around the nation. We must learn how to better communicate with those patients and their families, who suffer the stress of unexpectedly being in a hospital. Like other challenges, I’m confident we’ll meet and exceed the targets in terms of patient satisfaction.

  • Finally, the Board heard from President of the Medical Staff, Dr. Paul Jones, who shared results from a physician satisfaction survey, revealing stress by various segments of the medical staff. This topic was then addressed by our Mayo colleagues in three physician seminars over the next two days. We finished by reviewing our progress on graduate medical education, Blue Zones, information technology, and other future projects.

Quite a full agenda.  And quite an impressive and dedicated Board of Trustees.  Respectfully,

Allen S. Weiss, M.D., President and CEO

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