Q&A: Mountain States Health CEO on Patient-Centered Care

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , October 17, 2012

HL: What was it you were seeing 10 years ago that needed to be improved upon at MSHA?

DV: What I saw then and really what exists too much today is the processes and systems we put in place in healthcare are very much geared around our own team members as opposed to the patients and their families.

Some new ideas at that point involved going directly to the patients and their families and asking them 'what do you want to see? What is the ideal interaction you would have with your healthcare provider? How would you structure that?' It gives you a whole new way of looking at things.   

One problem very clearly was visitation hours. A good example was our ICU units at the time before we implemented patient-centered care had very restrictive visiting hours and that was strictly for the convenience of our staff.

We generally had an attitude of 'you're getting in the way. We don't need you here. We know what we are doing for your loved one and we will inform you when we see the need to do it, but not any sooner than that.' So, one of the things we did early on, one of our guiding principles is that family and friends of the patients are considered an essential part of the care team. We opened visitation hours.

We came to realize that our patients, most of the time, when they come to us have a family member or friend who has brought them there and they stay with them a good part of the time while they are patients.

Many times they are the caregivers for that patient after they leave us. We put together the Very Important Partner program. If a patient desires to have a family member or friend to be that VIP then that VIP will get some training from nursing staff.

And they are actually involved in helping do some of the care for the patients knowing they are probably going to be the caregiver for the patient when they leave us.

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