The two new CMOs see a much-expanded realm of responsibilities—individually and separately.
In his role, Wessel will be focused on clinical issues, but a hospital spokesman clarifies it a bit: "Much more hands-on in the business of running a hospital/clinical practices, and working with employed physicians to address the realities of a changing marketplace."
That changing marketplace? Wessell told me the hospital is contemplating formulating an Accountable Care Organization.
There is a great demand for outpatient programs in pediatric care, much as there is at hospitals involved in adult care. While Children's National is generating more outpatient programs, it still must broaden its inpatient base, Wessel says. There is a need to continue developing and expanding a variety of pediatric services, wrapped within specialties such as orthopedics to cardio to neurosurgery.
"Specialties are hard to find" in pediatric care, he adds. Those service lines will continue to flourish, reflected in the hospital's recent construction of a 26-bed cardio intensive care unit. "There is an opportunity for enormous advances," he says.
Clinically, while the hospital has made great strides in its delivery of pediatric care, there is always more to do. More than a decade ago, there was a mortality rate of 10% among children having cardiac surgery, Wessel noted. Now it's dramatically reduced to 2%.
"We want to not only have their hearts fixed, but have them contributing to society in an optimal way," he says. "We can continue to learn."
As it stresses clinical improvements, the hospital also places focus on "implementing cost reduction strategies and improving physician efficiency," Wessel says. Like adult care hospitals, the children's hospital is examining ways to reduce the use of CT scans and expose its young patients to less radiation. "It's not needed for every head bump," he says.