At Thibodaux, small team notches big wins

Bayou country staff gets 'jazzed up' about helping drive performance improvement
By Mike Miliard
02:27 AM
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Thibodaux Regional Medical Center

When asked what he thinks helped propel Thibodaux Regional Medical Center to the top spot in the "small" category of this year's edition of Best Hospital IT Departments, Chief Information Officer Bernie Clement says, "I don't think it's a single thing; I believe we work really hard to get our people feeling like they're part of the hospital and part of patient care improvement."

When asked what he thinks helped propel Thibodaux Regional Medical Center to the top spot in the "small" category of this year's edition of Best Hospital IT Departments, Chief Information Officer Bernie Clement says, "I don't think it's a single thing; I believe we work really hard to get our people feeling like they're part of the hospital and part of patient care improvement."

When double-checking the number of IT staffers at the 185-bed hospital, deep in Louisiana Cajun country, Clement literally counts them one by one (there are 18). That's an intimate working environment and one that fosters a family-like feel, he says.

[See the 5th Annual Best Hospital IT Departments]

Just the same, it's critical that their small size not lead to a feeling of insularity from the larger goings-on at the hospital. Keeping staff engaged with the day-to-day business of care delivery is one way to ensure they don't feel like "just another IT shop," he says. "That goes a very long way to them feeling like they'll put in the extra effort, put passion into what they do."

Thibodaux does a great job "recognizing the good work they do," says Clement, "including our physicians. I've worked at some places where it feels like IT is the enemy. Or there seemed to be the feeling that we were 'doing something for them', so to speak."

Ensuring the IT department feels like an essential and engaged part of clinical processes goes a long way to show the hospital "really realizes that we're part of their ongoing success and part of them being successful with everything being (digitized) in the industry these days," he says.

Indeed, when asked for examples of any recent gratifying success stories that prove the esprit de corps of his team, Clement points to IT's role in helping notch some big gains in physician performance improvement.

"The hospital has always done a really good job with Lean and Six Sigma and all that, but over the course of the last, say, year-and-a-half, we've focused on getting a good analytics tool and getting a really good performance improvement methodology that gets our physicians into the process and leading the process."

With help from warehousing and analytics tools from Health Catalyst, Thibodaux has charged ahead with a "data-driven, physician-led process" that's helped "get some good wins, first of all in sepsis and acute myocardial infarction, and now we're applying that to even more care processes," says Clement.

"I think it's pretty neat that we have IT people participating on those teams, " he adds. "They're able to see the impact they can have in using those analytics and doing what it's going to take to meet the Triple Aim. It really gets them jazzed up to see that happening, and it's good to see our physicians involved in that process. That overall culture goes a long way for everyone to make them feel like they're really involved in patient care."

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