In healthcare it’s the patients who drive us to do better, think smarter and reach for new outcomes. For patients at UPMC Hamot innovation means new ways of receiving lifesaving medicine and connecting to doctors, nurses and our facilities. Change in the healthcare environment is moving fast, but not as fast as UPMC Hamot. As a regional healthcare provider we are transforming in order for our patients to have easy access to good medicine, smart science and accountable, compassionate care.
What is Innovation?
Innovation is the process of rethinking how we do things. There is no question that in healthcare we have to be more efficient.
It’s a picture of our future. We never rest on what we do today, we are always looking to improve our care that we provide to our patients not only from the clinical perspective, the quality, safety, technology and cost.
Innovation comes in so many different ways. It can come in medications and technology, techniques and procedures, organizational structure, so it comes at us from many directions but it also tells you there is many opportunities for innovation, it’s not just about inventing a new product. It’s across the board innovation of how we think.
Innovation in Access to Care
Technology really has allowed patients to have much easier access to healthcare. Our implementation of an electronic medical record I think was an initial step into making sure as a system we have a seamless entry point. This travels all the way down to our use of Health Track, which is a wonderful system that allows patients to access their healthcare delivery providers from home.
I have 3 kids, 7, 5 and 2, I work from home, I have a home office so my life is pretty busy. Having 3 kids somebody is always sick. I don’t often have the time or the energy to pick-up the phone and bring everyone into the doctor’s office. By having this app on my phone or via my computer I can just shoot off an e-mail and know that I’ll have an answer.
Health Track has made things much more convenient, it allows me to continue with my patient care here in the office and in between seeing patients I’m able to come out and address people’s issues. It has made patient care so much better. They can directly with Health Track send me an email and I can respond to their questions really within hours instead of perhaps in the past it might have been days. My patients love that they can constantly get a hold of me if they, if they need. It’s just made things a lot more efficient.
Innovation in Early Detection
I believe the future of healthcare is going to be based in 3 components and that is early detection, standardized therapy and compliance with that therapy. So what really starts at the beginning of that equation is looking at screening, early detection of diseases. If we can find diseases earlier in the process our treatment is going to be less expensive, less invasive, less aggressive, less complications and we can keep people from becoming very ill.
Preventative medicine is important regardless of which kind of medicine – which kind of disease process you are looking at. It is far easier and cheaper to prevent diseases from happening and maintaining wellness than treating problems after they have already occurred. Lung cancer screening does allow us to diagnose and treat can – lung cancers earlier leading to an improvement in mortality. This is the first time this has been proven. If we can find and diagnose and treat these lung cancers at an earlier stage we can make a significant improvement to the patient’s quality and expectancy of life.
Innovation in Delivery of Care
I think innovation has changed healthcare dramatically. We’ve actually taken it to the next level and are introducing a high risk breast program. The high risk breast program really affords women an opportunity to have better control over the medical care for their breast concerns.
In June I had another mammogram, or a mammogram and then I got a phone call saying there is something spotty and then it turned out that I had to have a biopsy. And that’s when they told me that it’s something. It was 2 days later, the day before my son’s graduation party and the doctor told me, he says you have cancer.
From a patient’s perspective the high risk breast program offers them a comprehensive way to monitor their risks, meet with our, our medical and surgical specialists and devise a, an individualized surveillance and monitoring program.
UPMC Hamot has been wonderful to me. Regarding – I call it my stepping stones because they have guided me from one, one step to another step to another step because I didn’t have to do any thinking. You go through so much as it is. They have – they are there.
The high risk breast program offers a lot of new services for women, the most – I think the biggest one is the genetic – access to genetic counseling and that really helps women understand what their risks, their genetic risk factors are. Are they significant that they need to have further studies done or just provide education?
The genetics part was very important for me because I do have such a large family, and I do have so many aunts and uncles who have passed away on my father’s side of the family with cancer. So it was such a peace of mind and also telling my sister because she’s older than me, and I says you know the likelihood of you getting cancer is really low, unfortunately I had to get it but I’d rather have received it myself versus somebody else that I care about. I’m really glad, I’m really glad I came to UPMC.
Innovation in Surgical Care
In the past 2 years we’ve developed a lot of technologies and inclusive of those is our robotic surgery which we have had for a very long time but we’ve been able to expand to new services, to new procedures, to additional physicians doing those procedures locally that result in very precise surgeries with better outcomes, lower length of stays as well as being more efficient for the system.
Innovation in radiology has been extensive over the last 1, 2, 3 decades. We have services such as MRI, CT scan angiography and within these different modalities we are able to do minimally invasive procedures and the technology has gone hand in hand with the ability to offer patients more as far as choices regarding procedures or treatment options.
Operations have become minimally invasive and that really would not have been possible without all the technological advances. The technology also allows us to use smaller and smaller incisions when we do our operations and some of our operations now can be done without incisions, so-called incisionless surgery.
I was a very active person and suddenly I stopped on a dime because I had horrendous back pains. I was very frightened to have back surgery and neurosurgery. I didn’t know what it would be like. I had minimally invasive which really attracts me to this surgery. Dr. Bellotte did an excellent explanation. The first time I stood up I said oh, my goodness. And the nurse said are you all right? Am I all right? I’m standing pain free after 8 years, I don’t feel anything. No pain in my legs, this is glorious.
Innovation in Performance
2013 has been a year of extreme growth and innovation here at Hamot. I’d say the amount of change that we’ve had is phenomenal and the improvements that we’ve seen as a result are palpable to patients and staff so that’s made it much easier for the amount of change to be tolerable for people.
Our strength at UPMC Hamot is with the frontline staff. Those are the people who take care of our patients each and every day, every second of every day they do a remarkable job and it’s their care that helps us achieve as a team the, the national accolades that we receive and it’s the frontline staff who really are responsible for our success.
Hamot in the future is going to be an organization that I think is going to be proactive in regards to its thinking, it’s going to continue to a focus on regional relationships with our partner hospitals and our partner physicians, it’s going to create a new platform on which I think the community can be proud that they can say they can come here and the high quality of care, and we can deliver a experience to the patient that’s positive and to their families that say I’m glad I went to Hamot.