Q: Have you identified a strategy that helps make that process easier?
A: The first step is to establish a sense of urgency. Then I try to get people who will be involved in the process or people who don’t oppose change to help set up a vision for the project and communicate that vision. Once you get empowerment to do the project, go for a short, early win that shows the concept is viable and can make it.
Q: How did you develop your interest in information systems?
A: I’ve always been interested in computers and how we can use computerization and informatic systems to improve patient care. When I became a hospitalist, I got much more involved. Decatur Memorial implemented computer physician order entry (CPOE). I became the physician champion for that, and my interest grew from there. I’m fortunate our administration is very good at pushing to improve our information systems.
Q: Does that interest fit with your approach toward medicine?
A: Absolutely. I’m a big believer in evidenced-based medicine. I think computer systems complement that very well.
Q: You were a finalist for McKesson’s Distinguished Achieve-ment Award and received an award this year from the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems. What were those honors for?
A: We did a complete cultural change with nurses and physicians in terms of how they deal with diabetes. As part of that project, I developed a CPOE order set that automatically calculated the basal, nutritional, and correctional insulin dosage for the physician based on the patient’s weight and height. It made the right thing to do the easy thing to do. The concept involved the use of evidence-based medicine, project improvement with the Six Sigma process, and the high-level use of informatics.
Q: Has that improved patient care?
A: I was able to demonstrate a statistically significant improvement in glucose control without a change in hypoglycemia, so I did demonstrate an improved clinical outcome.
Q: What’s next for you professionally?
A: I have no intention of changing jobs, but I will continue to be very involved in quality projects. The biggest long-term project is developing more patient- and family-centered care at our hospital. I went to a national conference in February, and a big component was patient-centered care. I was very intrigued by it and brought the vision back to our hospital.
Q: Where does the effort stand?
A: I thought our hospitalist group would be a good group to do an initial component of the project. It went over really well, and people started asking me to present it to others. It took on a life of its own, and I wound up on a bit of a lecture series. It has since become an official Six Sigma project. We got the charter for it and it’s going in the hospital’s strategic plan, which I’m very pleased about.
Q: You earned FHM designation earlier this year. What does that mean to you?
A: It means a great deal. It’s tremendous recognition for the work I’ve done, the quality improvement projects I’ve been involved with, and the leadership roles I’ve taken on. At the same time, when you are able to show a national society views your work as important, I think it gives me even more credibility with the administration and the support staff.
Mark Leiser is a freelance writer based in New Jersey.