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Real Issues : Real Solutions

Baptist Health System Turnaround in recession

JAN/FEB 2011


BAPTIst Health System

“As a team, leadership held focus groups to find out

improved physician satisfaction. All this through the

what our values meant to employees in the context of

lowest point in America’s recession.

the workplace and performing their daily roles.”

“We are really trying to challenge ourselves to think

Baptist Health System includes four hospitals, 40

In the face of healthcare reform, tightening costs and coordinating independent and hospital-employed physicians, healthcare systems are seeking innovative ways to provide care and create a positive environment for employees. Baptist Health System in Birmingham, Alabama, chose to use the organization’s mission and values to reinvigorate the process of providing care, improving quality indicators as well as finances.

healthcare,” Spees said. “We have to step back and

as well as nine senior housing facilities. The organiza-

look at where we have opportunities to change the

tion’s mission incorporates its values as guidance for

way we provide and manage healthcare. We’ve chosen

providing care and establishing goals: As a witness

to approach this as a team, which is not easy. It was

to the love of God, revealed through Jesus Christ, the

a cultural shift for us as an organization.” With about

Baptist Health System is committed to ministries that

4,300 employees in the organization, redefining the

enhance the health, dignity and wholeness of those

working culture was no small task.

we serve through Integrity, Compassion, Advocacy, Resourcefulness, and Excellence. Using this mission as a guide, Baptist went from

“As a longstanding, faith-based organization, we have a rich history and strong mission,” said Shane Spees, President and CEO. “I made an effort to meet with employees, physicians, business owners and others to get an impression of where we stood in the market and find opportunities for improvement. I noticed that we weren’t living out a strong sense of mission daily.

innovatively and differently about our approach to

physician practices, independent physician locations,

Importance of leadership and teamwork

having operating losses of around $25 million in 2007

Baptist took a team approach to developing goals and

to operating income of almost $2 million in fiscal

changing the culture, with the System’s mission state-

year 2010. The System also made progress in operat-

ment as their guiding principle in all changes.

ing and clinical quality indicators over the past three

“In a team-based approach, we all understand

years, performing in the top 10 percent nationally

we’re responsible for our goals,” Spees said. “We all

in many areas. In addition, the health system has

have individual targets and objectives to reach, but we

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formulate our plans in a team environment. We also

and human resource leadership systems, which

He also said the system just broke ground on a project

have critical success factors at the System level: mis-

included investing in leadership tools and coaching.

at its largest hospital—Princeton Baptist—to renovate

sion, excellence and engagement. All planning we do

With strong leadership, Baptist was able to focus on

90,000 square feet of existing space and add 60,000

relates to those success factors.“

employee and physician engagement and improving

square feet. The project is estimated for three years,

Using the critical success factors, which relate back to

the work area to meet the needs of employees

and Spees said when complete, the hospital will have

the health system’s mission and values, keeps align-

and physicians.

the “most modern technology in operating procedural

ment throughout all facilities and helps balance the

rooms available.”

decision-making process. Whether it’s decisions on

Next steps

capital investment or services expansion, leaders can

With the employee culture and finances improved,

the implementation of an ambulatory electronic medi-

look to the success factors to ensure their decision

and quality measures on the rise, Baptist Health

cal record throughout employed physician practices

fits within the System’s strategic plan, Spees said.

System is now looking toward modernization and

and independent physician practices that have chosen

improving technology.

to contract with the System. Spees is looking forward

“The team-based approach has fostered a culture not just of teamwork, but also of system-wide ac-

“Recently we invested about $150 million in

Another exciting investment for the System is in

to a future with the community’s hospital and ambula-

countability,” Spees said. “We’ve made sure our plans

modernizing the internal workings of our hospitals,”

are aligned and cascade those targets down to indi-

Spees said. “That includes investments in medical

vidual goals and objectives for different roles through-

technology, medical equipment, new cath labs, new

tant to be persistent in pursuing your goals and being

out the system, not just across management.”

operating rooms. We also recently opened a new pa-

mindful of your organization’s overall mission. It’s not

tient tower at Shelby Baptist Medical Center, which

just what you accomplish, but how you accomplish it

critical to the System’s success. He said the health

features all private rooms and doubles our critical

that matters.”

system began re-engineering its operating systems

care capacity, which was a real need in

Spees said investing in leadership has also been

that community.”

tory settings connected through this technology. In accomplishing all this, Spees said, “It’s impor-

By Patricia Chaney

HCE EXCHANGE MAGAZINE Real Issues : Real Solutions



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