Pamela Banchy – Western Reserve Hospital
What does it mean to be a patient-centric hospital? For Pam Banchy, registered nurse and chief information officer at Western Reserve Hospital in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, it means combining her skills and experience on the clinical side with her expertise in deploying technology to better serve patients.
Since Banchy first spoke with Toggle in January 2017, Western Reserve Hospital has been steaming ahead on technology initiatives designed to further enhance the patient experience while also ensuring compliance with regulatory guidelines.
Patient engagement is job #1
While the hospital continues to optimize its electronic medical records (EMR) in anticipation of new regulatory guidelines coming in January 2019, Banchy’s team is also focused on the hospital’s patient portal.
“Patient engagement is a very high priority for us as well as for regulators,” she explains. “The technology behind the portal allows patients to communicate with providers and receive their clinical results and a copy of their summary of care, another government requirement.”
To introduce patients to the portal internally, staff collects email addresses and contact information when individuals register for appointments. This essentially starts the enrollment process and enables internal marketing to then begin engaging with patients. Communicating with the broader community requires a somewhat different strategy.
“Security is always on everyone’s mind,” says Mark Bosko, vice president of marketing and public relations. “So as a first step, we need to convey the fact that the portal is a very secure and trusted site. To get the word out we encourage physicians to mention it to patients at appointments, we promote it via collateral in patient areas, we talk about it in community forums, and we talk internally to our own approximately 1,000 employees, many of whom are at one point or another patients.”
With a utilization rate of more than 50 percent, the hospital considers its efforts to date to be successful.
Fruits of reciprocity
Another patient-focused initiative that Banchy and her staff have prioritized is establishing health information exchanges with hospitals and medical groups across the state of Ohio that serve Western Reserve Hospital’s patient population.
A goal of Banchy’s for two years, she says the secure and confidential exchanges make life easier for primary care physicians, specialists, hospitals, or even post-acute facilities.
Finally—and invisibly to most people—the hospital continues to work on developing tools, policies, procedures and education around information security.
“Healthcare is now a target for hackers,” Banchy asserts. “There are a lot of people out there who don’t want to do the right thing, and that is a very big concern for all hospitals, all medical groups and virtually everyone who uses technology. Understanding the risks involved and how to protect yourself or, in our case, our organizational and patient data is vital.”
Looking down the road, Banchy’s technology “Wish List” includes integrating the hospital’s wireless infrastructure and building upon that through other software applications—but not without help. Allscripts, Western Reserve’s largest tech partner, will be providing both clinical and financial products as well as data hosting services, as it does for other projects. “Allscripts is integral to our strategic roadmap and is a critical relationship for us,” she explains.
Connecting through community outreach
If technology supports Western Reserve Hospital’s mission of being patient-centric, Banchy says its physicians and staff walk the walk, both at work as well as in the broader community.
“Our community connectedness is what defines and differentiates us,” says Bosko. “We are not owned by a large healthcare organization that is in another state or even in another county. Being an independent, physician-led organization is the biggest point of differentiation for the hospital. And the fact that those physicians are local is vitally important to those we serve.”
Indeed, Western Reserve Hospital and its staff are committed to working closely with city leadership, businesses, organizations, schools, and police and fire departments to implement effective, far-reaching programs for families and children.
One such program, “Not Me, I’m Drug Free,” is a partnership between Western Reserve Hospital, the city of Cuyahoga Falls, and the city school system. Specifically directed at 5th and 6th graders, Not Me educates young students about the dangers of drugs, how not to succumb to peer pressure, and how to make smart choices. Participants in the program are rewarded with treats from local merchants and individual recognition from the mayor as well as the fire and police chiefs.
Another program, “Doctor’s Order,” partners Western Reserve with more than a dozen local restaurants, which on their menus identify their heart-healthy entrees.
Forging her own path
With an impressive career as both a registered nurse and an IT executive, Banchy admits to many challenges along the way, although she is philosophical about her experiences.
“Challenges are opportunities,” she reflects. “The opportunity to do clinical transformation by combining my clinical experience and the use of technology has been challenging but also the most rewarding aspect of my career. Where I sit today, there is no career path for that.”
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