Newsmaker Interview: Mark Laney, president and CEO of Heartland Health

By Bernie Monegain
01:07 PM

Mark Laney, MD, is the president and CEO of Heartland Health, St. Joseph, Mo. Heartland was the recipient of 2009 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Mo. In previous years, Laney served as president of Cook Children’s Physician Network in Fort Worth, Texas.

What was the tipping point that prompted Heartland Health’s bid for a 2009 Baldrige Award – why now?
 Heartland Health began the journey to performance excellence long before I stepped foot in the door. We began applying for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award several years ago, simply for the feedback. When you apply for this award, quality experts provide you with a detailed plan for improvement. We used this process as a foundation to continuously improve the quality of care we provide our patients and our community.
What aspect was the hardest to achieve?
With achievement comes conclusion. We are certainly not at the end of the road when it comes to our efforts of improving quality. That is probably the hardest but most liberating aspect. We constantly are finding ways to perform better, which means constant change.

In the end, this is also the most rewarding part of what we do. When we can improve a process to make our patients’ quality of life improve, that only encourages us to do more.
What role did information technology play in achieving excellence?
Information technology is a part of everything we do. From something as simple as providing our care givers  the tools they need to be informed of what is going on inside the organization to the Lewis and Clark Information Exchange, otherwise known as LACIE. Because Heartland is the resource hospital for several critical access hospitals in the region and is very advanced with an integrated electronic health record using Cerner, we established LACIE – an innovative, technological, idea designed to meet a new and growing need for sharing patient data across regional providers in northwest Missouri.
What performance excellence strategy are you most eager to share with other organizations?
We will be anxious to share our Community Focus approach and Integration strategies.  All healthcare award recipients up to this point have been hospitals. Being the first Integrated Delivery System will allow us to show the nation how healthcare can be provided resulting in low costs and top decile quality outcomes.

We also recognize that we must focus on the determinants of healthcare (education, poverty, hopelessness) and the actual causes of death based on human behaviors that result in obesity, low physical activity and tobacco and alcohol use.
What are you reading?
Right now I am extremely passionate about Erie Chapman’s work and I am reading Radical Loving Care and Sacred Work.

 Bernie Monegain interviewed Mark Laney, MD.