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Innovation at EmCare Anesthesia Services

Posted on Tue, May 06, 2014

innovationThis post is part of EmCare’s 4-part Innovation series where we highlight what innovation means to members of EmCare’s leadership. Follow this series each Tuesday to discover our commitment to innovation in health care.

by: Dr. Michael Hicks, CEO

Innovation and creativity typically don’t just happen. Yes, on occasion, brilliant ideas can seemingly spontaneously occur at opportune times… but this is the exception rather than the rule. Most innovative ideas occur as a result of hard work and dedication to conscious, deliberate and reasonably formalized processes designed to create an environment to elicit many ideas with innovation potential. It is just this type of environment that we are creating now.

Consider some of our recent innovative approaches to healthcare delivery models and the contrasts to our competitors. Most of our colleagues in the healthcare industry focus on making incremental improvements to long held care delivery models by improving operational efficiency and effectiveness.

No doubt, High Reliability Organizing, Lean and Six Sigma methodologies and other operations management tools are important contributions in healthcare improvement. However, they serve to improve existing ways of doing things and to enhance existing workflow. They are important and necessary and we at EmCare excel at deploying these tools and attitudes. In some sense their widespread adoption by us is indeed innovative.

In anesthesiology and perioperative medicine, our ability to innovate means we can combine operating roomexisting resources and create new ones. This allows us to change the way surgical patients receive care, improve their experience, and make meaningful structural contributions to the healthcare system. Our efforts with preoperative surgical patient preparation provide better patient care, increased efficiencies, and ultimately lower costs to the system. It is exciting, desperately needed, and predicated on our strength in perioperative operations. It also is innovative. Like the rest of our colleagues at EmCare, innovation for us is more than identifying some ideas that might make a difference. For us, innovation is part of our culture, part of our corporate DNA.

Our anesthesia and surgical leadership is embracing the concept of perioperative medicine. Like its medical analogue of the Patient Centered Medical Home, EmCare Perioperative Medicine approaches the surgical experience from the perspective of the patient and the surgeon and seeks to make the experience a seamless continuum of care instead of the heavily siloed series of encounters that tradition has brought forward. It means that we “start with the end in mind” and seek to provide the right kind of care by the right clinicians at the right time and place.

By focusing on the work and experience of preoperative care needed by patients and surgeons we are creating a new approach to surgical care that creates better value by stripping out waste, improving communication, and incorporating clinical decision support tools. This improves the experience for all of the participants in the perioperative continuum.

There is no better way to see this than with the cross-pollination between our experiences with patient flow and throughput in the ED-hospitalist arena and our efforts in the perioperative continuum. Our empowerment of those who struggle with real problems and obstacles in one area by connecting them to those who have come up with solutions in other areas results in benefits that may very well not have been generated nearly as quickly as desired. Our experience with preoperative patient preparation shows us that while every hospital and surgery center has its own unique twist on perioperative patient flow, each of them share certain real and fundamental issues that can be ameliorated or improved through some of the innovative processes that we have right now in many of our emergency departments.

We are on our way to being a different kind of organization in terms of how we approach making healthcare work better together.

HicksDr. Michael Hicks joined EmCare in 2009 when EmCare acquired Pinnacle’s management services organization. He was the founding president of Pinnacle, helped form Pinnacle Anesthesia Consultants, (now known as Pinnacle Partners In Medicine), and was CEO of Pinnacle’s management service organization prior to the acquisition by EmCare. Dr. Hicks has held numerous managerial positions within Pinnacle and its predecessor, DFW Anesthesia Associates. He is an anesthesiologist and has been the anesthesia department chair and medical director for several hospitals and surgery centers. Dr. Hicks continues to practice medicine in the Dallas area while holding the position of regional medical director for a national healthcare company and performing his administrative duties for EmCare Anesthesia Services. Additionally, Dr. Hicks maintains board certification in both anesthesiology and clinical informatics. Dr. Hicks received his M.D. from West Virginia University School of Medicine, and did his residency at The University of Texas Southwestern School of Medicine and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, as well as the Texas Heart Institute in Houston. He received his MBA from The University of Dallas Graduate School of Management and a Master of Science degree in Health Policy and Management from the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Hicks is also a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

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