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November 07 Businessexcellence 99 Tucked in amongst the hills at the south end of Otsego Lake in upstate New York is Bassett Healthcare, an organization that has built itself a reputation as a leader in rural medicine. “What we are,” says executive vice president and chief operating officer Dr. Bertine Colombo McKenna, “is an organization with the strengths of a university hospital in a rural setting.” Bassett Healthcare is, on the surface, an academic medical center based in Cooperstown, NY, but dig down and you will find a complex organization whose impact reaches far beyond this small village. Bassett provides care to patients across nine counties covering 5,000 square miles through a network of four hospitals, 25 community health centers, 14 school-based health centers, a long term care facility, a DME and a home care company. Its flagship hospital is The Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital, a 180 bed acute care, inpatient teaching facility in Cooperstown. All of its 320 providers are Bassett employees and many are faculty at Columbia University. Bassett specialists travel across the region often providing services not typically found in rural communities. Its continued success is well-renowned, with Time Magazine holding it up as a model of rural healthcare. One of the keys to keeping Bassett Healthcare on track is another thing that sets it apart—the organization has had only four CEOs in its history. Current CEO Dr. William Streck is in his 25th year at the helm. “The mission is intact,” McKenna said. “More than eighty years after the hospital first opened, respect for the history of this place is very well protected. That consistency of purpose and focus is one of the things that drew me here.” Respect for the past at Bassett, however, doesn’t preclude innovation. “Innovation has always been front and center,” McKenna said. “Change is part of the tradition, part of being visionary, and very much a part of who we are.” Today those innovative ideas come from diverse voices. “Unlike a for profit business we don’t have R&D,” she continued. What Bassett does have are functional teams comprised of providers and administrative staff, each with a piece of the organization’s strategic plan to consider. “Those functional teams are our R&D,” McKenna explained. “They figure out what’s right and how it got that way, as well as what’s not right and how to fix it.” McKenna, who joined Bassett in 2002, believes very strongly that successful growth and change occur by understanding an organization’s culture and maximizing its biggest asset— its people. “Part of my leadership belief is paying attention to the culture,” she added. “It’s always about the people, and we’re developing leaders at all levels—doctors and non-doctors alike.” While investing in human capital is at the top of McKenna’s list, a close second is leveraging technology to enhance quality and safety. In fact, Bassett was included on Health Imaging and IT’s “Top 25 Connected” hospitals list. “If a provider has a user friendly work environment, the patient is happier, the care experience is better, and delivery of care is better,” she said. “We always strive for no human error.” As one example of leveraging technology, Bassett is wireless across its entire region. It uses teleconferencing in the care of stroke patients. “Our neurologists can be contacted by a hospital an hour away and get intervention started quickly,” she said. Additionally, Bassett Healthcare is a beta site for Vanderbilt University’s ICA electronic medical records software, which is allowing the organization to design a system based on provider approaches to patient care. “It’s a flexible model so we can manipulate it to fit the needs of our organization,” McKenna said. “This is appealing to the providers. It also allows us to develop protocols and practices. We can modify it to serve our rural location and our patients.” Bassett is also using technology to support the care it provides, partnering with Lawson Software for a variety of enterprise applications such as accounting/finance, HR and supply chain. “Any place we find we can be more careful using technology we will,” she said. “There’s a pureness of wanting to do it the right way here.” Above all, what Bassett Healthcare wants to get right is the care it offers to its patients. As it moves forward, the goal is to create “universal” patient rooms, which will be equipped to provide multi-levels of care to a patient. “Instead of moving a patient, the care will come to the patient,” McKenna said. Today, Bassett’s Heart Care Institute is a direct reflection of that mission to serve the region in the best way possible. Bassett undertook a detailed, evidence-based analysis of the health of its region and discovered cardiovascular disease was among the top medical issues. “Our approach is to BassettHealthcare

100 Businessexcellence November 07 provide comprehensive health care that includes a preventive component with community heart screenings and outreach. It is a holistic approach to heart health. We fi nd out where our population needs us and go there.” It’s fi tting then that Bassett’s brand is, “Right Where You Need Us”. Programs stemming from the Heart Care Institute include educating area middle school children about heart healthy lifestyles and a study of obesity in the region by Bassett’s Research Institute. “We are always looking at evidence to make sure we’re doing the right thing by our patients,” McKenna said. This means, of course, continuing to hire the right people, which can prove a challenge. Bassett Healthcare is working toward earning a “great place to work” designation, to help with that. “We already think we are,” McKenna noted. If that isn’t enough, Bassett is taking a proactive approach to helping solve the physician shortage by developing a medical school campus in Cooperstown. The thought is that the careful selection, recruitment and training of medical students in a rural setting will provide them with a better understanding of what it takes to practice medicine in such a unique environment. Once again, an innovative approach. “This is the place for someone who wants a balance of a beautiful setting with a sophisticated career environment,” McKenna said. “It’s a very sweet balance.” BassettHealthcare Covidien, formerly Tyco Healthcare, is a global $10 billion manufacturer of leading medical devices and supplies, imaging products and pharmaceuticals. The company employs more than 43,000 people worldwide and is dedicated to working with medical professionals to improve patient outcomes. Its portfolio of leading brands includes Autosuture, Kendall, Mallinckrodt, Nellcor, Puritan Bennett, Syneture and Valleylab. Covidien