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Arizona hospitals use innovation to create better patient care

In the ever-changing face of healthcare, many Arizona hospitals have stepped up to the plate to provide some of the most innovative advances in treatment in an effort to provide patients with better care and better results.

Beyond better treatment, the impact of healthcare on Arizona’s economy is undeniable. Twelve of the 50 biggest employers in Arizona are healthcare-related businesses. In an industry that is constantly being asked to re-invent and redefine itself, the ability to innovate is what will make hospitals and healthcare a growing sector in Arizona’s economic landscape.

Want to know who some of those leaders in healthcare innovation are?

Az Business magazine takes an in-depth look at what four healthcare providers are doing.

Maricopa Integrated Health Systems (MIHS)
The Arizona Burn Center, under the umbrella of MIHS, is world renowned for its burn care and continued research to improve burn treatment. It is not only one of the largest burn centers but also the only one in Arizona to have received verification by the American Burn Association. The center is leading the charge when it comes to better solutions to heal burn victims and is on the cutting edge of two of the most promising new skin substitutes, a “skin spray” and lab-grown artificial skin.

“Our original intention for the skin spray, which has not yet been approved by the FDA and is undergoing trials, was to be used to treat relatively small burns, but we discovered it is much more useful for large burns,” says Kevin Foster, surgeon and medical director of the Arizona Burn Center. “With special approval from the FDA, and of course the patients, we have used it outside the study in three cases.”

The results of those cases were so promising that Foster says they changed the direction of the study to reflect the way the skin spray will ultimately be used, for large burns rather than small burns.

Foster calls a true artificial skin the “Holy Grail” of skin substitutes and notes that a product utilizing lab-grown cells is currently being developed by the University of Wisconsin. The Arizona Burn Center is the research site for that product.

Beyond the development of these new skin solutions, Arizona Burn Center is changing the way burn victims receive diagnosis and treatment. With telemedicine, Burn Center surgeons are available 24/7 via desktop or laptop to consult with emergency physicians at outlying hospitals. Burn specialists can “see” patients, assess the injuries and determine whether a patient can be treated locally or needs to be transported to the burn center.

Though admittedly very expensive to develop and use, these advances in technology are designed to return the patient to their normal lives sooner and with less rehabilitation, which is where the savings will result, says Foster.

“Ultimately, we want patients to get better sooner with less time spent in hospital,” Foster adds. “The skin spray and artificial skin will do that.”

Tucson Medical Center
While innovations in medicine and treatment are paramount, it is also crucial to keep up with the advancing technologies of daily operations within a healthcare organization to keep it running as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Tucson Medical Center (TMC) Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer Elizabeth Maish says that 2015 has been focused on taking TMC’s operations to the next level, as it’s the foundation for all of the other improvements that need to occur within a healthcare organization.

“We placed great importance on our electronic medical records (EMR) at an early stage in the game,” Maish says. “While many organizations are just now really diving in, we began our journey in the early 2000s, even before the Affordable Care Act. This has allowed us to reach Stage 7 EMR, which very few hospitals in the U.S. have achieved.”

In addition, TMC has built several interactive, data-rich tools to improve operations, such as the Bed Board, which is an electronic board that allows for ultra-real time management of patients who are waiting for a bed, placed in a bed or discharged.

“This technology has reduced the amount of time that it takes us to get patients in a bed by 30 percent,” Maish adds.

TMC’s goal is to keep people “at home and healthy” versus being in the hospital, according to Maish. In an effort to improve care management and keep readmission rates low, the facility has become an Accountable Care Organization and established the Arizona Connect Care program, within which special measures are taken when discharging patients to ensure they have all the information they need to continue healing at home.

Maish feels that the innovations TMC is taking in the quest for operational excellence will yield better efficiencies and outcomes, which translate to dollars and an optimized bottom line. However, that is secondary.

“More importantly, adopting a steadfast approach toward improvements through innovative thinking, data use and clinical evidence can be the platform for untold financial strength and cultural transformation,” she says.

Mayo Clinic
Sometimes going forward to advance patient care requires reverting to basics. For the Mayo Clinic, that means going back 150 years to the team-based care initiated by the Mayo brothers. Dr. Richard S. Zimmerman, M.D., a professor of neurosurgery at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, says the organization “has a long tradition of innovation in healthcare built upon our core belief that the needs of the patient come first … yet only recently has this been emphasized that much better care occurs with this integrated care model.”

Mayo Clinic has advanced medical research with the goal of providing the best possible care for patients. Some of its most recent areas of innovation include cancer care, with its upcoming Proton Beam facility — the first and only one of its kind in Arizona and scheduled to open in February 2016; medical education; telemedicine; genomic research; personalized medicine; regenerative medicine; and the science of healthcare delivery.

“The needs of patients drive research at Mayo Clinic,”  Zimmerman says. “As doctors treat patients and see opportunities for advancing patient care, they work together with Mayo scientists and research teams to develop new and improved diagnostic tools, medications, devices, treatment protocols and more.”

Another major innovation at the Mayo Clinic is the development of The Mayo Medical School — Arizona Campus, which will include a key collaboration with Arizona State University. A major differentiating feature resulting from this new branch of Mayo Medical School is that all students will complete a specialized certification in the Science of Health Care Delivery concurrently with their medical degree. Zimmerman believes Mayo Medical School is the first to offer such a program.

“The science of healthcare delivery focuses on how patients actually receive care,” Zimmerman says. “From using engineering principles to determine the most efficient way to schedule patient appointments to research focusing on the most successful, cost-effective means for delivering treatment, this discipline’s aim is to enhance the patient’s health care experience by improving quality, outcomes and cost.”

Flagstaff Medical Center
Donated to the Flagstaff community in 1955 by Dr. Charles Sechrist as Flagstaff Hospital, the not-for-profit healthcare organization, now known as Flagstaff Medical Center (FMC), has one very unique aspect — its staff treats every patient, whether or not they are able to pay for their care.

FMC, which is DNV Healthcare accredited, also has a special partnership with Northern Arizona tribes, such as the Navajo, to provide care to those with limited access. This exemplifies the true spirit of healthcare leaders, refocusing efforts back on patient care and satisfaction.

The big picture
Based on the innovative efforts of Arizona hospitals and healthcare organizations, patient care has never been more of a priority. This focus has caused an interesting new trend of collaboration, according to Joan Koerber-Walker, president and CEO of the Arizona BioIndustry Association.

“Patients are now receiving the highest level of care, not only by today’s standards but by tomorrow’s as well,” Koerber-Walker says. “This is a result of collaborations of hospitals with other hospitals, universities, entrepreneurs and global leaders. Arizona has a true collaborative spirit and, with that, we’re seeing great things.”

Koerber-Walker cites the Arizona Alzheimer’s Association as an example of multiple organizations working toward a common good.

“TGen, UofA, ASU, Banner, Mayo and Barrow are all working together on this project and we’re seeing how the best of each of these institutions can come together to end this disease,” Koerber-Walker says, noting that Arizona is receiving global attention for its collaborative effort on Alzheimer’s research.

Koerber-Walker believes strongly in the recent innovations such as telemedicine and collaborative research will continue to result in better patient care and ultimately prevent readmissions that hurt hospitals’ bottom lines.

“Innovation is not only making patients’ lives better, it’s improving quality of care,” she says.

Banner University Medical Center Tucson, Courtesy Shepley-Bulfinch

2 Arizona healthcare projects bring contractors together

If you want to build it, they will come.

Healthcare contractors have been champing at the bit for the last year in anticipation of two major hospital projects in Arizona. In November 2014, Prop 480 passed, which would enable a replacement of the largest clinical teaching hospital in Maricopa County, Maricopa Integrated Health Systems (MIHS), and to develop additional facilities on the campus.

In January, Banner Health finalized its acquisition of the University of Arizona Health Network, which includes the medical school and its facilities. The terms of the affiliation included an agreement to invest $500M over five years into the community. So far, the plans include a new patient tower at the existing campus and a new hospital on the north campus.

“We started with what was the former owner’s priorities and tore into those assumptions and concluded that instead of upgrades on the campus, it was going to require a replacement of the patient care tower,” says Kathy Bollinger, executive vice president of academic delivery for Banner Health.

The current University of Arizona Medical Campus’ operating rooms are the same size as those built 40 years ago — 350 SF. Now, operating rooms are twice the size, Bollinger explains. Building a new facility will cost more, though considerably less than completely retrofitting the entire campus, she adds. Patients of the existing facility need somewhere to go. That’s where the new  comes in.

“From a timing standpoint, things must move out before we begin the hospital project,” Bollinger adds. The RFP for general contractors on the new hospital facility, Banner-University Medical Center Tucson, were issued in late March with a selection expected to be made May 1.

“I’ll be thrilled if we get a shovel in the ground this year,” says Bollinger, adding that it’s more likely to happen in early 2016.

However, for the last year, general contractors have had their eyes on Tucson and preparing strategic partnerships (some are admittedly going solo) in anticipation of the RFP and work.

“A key criteria for the selection will include the ability to include Tucson-based sub-contractors in the project,” says Kip Edwards, vice president of development and construction for Banner Health.

Banner Health solicits from a pre-approved general contractor list, meaning it works with firms it’s familiar with. Edwards had only heard of one joint venture prior to releasing the RFP.

district’s website to join an email list. Maricopa Integrated Health System 4 | May-June 2015

Maricopa Integrated Health System

“There are not generals large enough in the Tucson market to do a hospital project of this magnitude,” he says. “One of our big focuses will be their inclusion of Tucson-based subs. They’ll have to demonstrate their knowledge of the Tucson market.”

This is why DPR Construction tapped Tucson-based Sundt Construction for a joint venture on the project. In addition to a history of joint ventures on educational life science facilities between the two companies, DPR aligned itself with the company for the local know-how.

“I think Banner will get a lot of pressure from the local Tucson marketplace to use as many Tucsonians as possible,” says Hamilton Espinosa, national healthcare leader for DPR Construction. “I think the Tucson community is very proud.”

Ryan Abbott, science and technology group leader for Sundt Construction, observes that using local subcontractors does bring more pride into a project.

“We find that we get a lot more pride in craftsmanship if (subcontractors) drive by that project and can tell family they did that,” he says. “A project built by a community that will benefit from the project, there’s a natural alignment of behavior there…Our industry is really complex and aggregates thousands of supply chains. The simpler you can make those by being locally sourced, the better you are at providing a predictable outcome.”

Sundt Construction is also a prolific joint venturer.

“Most of the time we form a joint venture, it’s not because of the scale of the project,” says Abbott, adding that there can never be too many different experts at work.

It’s about knowing the owner, adds McCarthy Building Companies’ Executive Vice President Justin Kelton.

“McCarthy has a bonding capacity so that we don’t really need a partner (on the MIHS project), but we listen to our owners,” he says. “Either one of us could do the job alone or on our own,” he adds of joint venture partner DPR Construction for the MIHS project. “On Maricopa, you make some assumptions that in public work we can bring a lot to the table as a team. I think they would be more comfortable (with a team).”

Though an RFP for the MIHS project may be a year or more away, one general contractor suggests, these partnerships all started being discussed more than a year ago. Kitchell’s Russ Korcuska said talks of joint ventures for the Maricopa project started about two years ago and more formally a year ago. Currently, it has a loose joint venture with Hunt Construction but nothing finalized by press time.

“These investments are understood to be tremendous opportunities for our community,” says MIHS CEO Steve Purves of the enthusiasm. “In addition to the construction jobs that will be created by the capital projects, the economic impact of what MIHS does – advanced patient care, medical education and clinical training – is quite economically significant to Maricopa County and the State of Arizona.”

As for insight into when general contractors can expect an RFP, Purves isn’t particularly specific.

“Since the election last November, the district board has been meeting regularly to discuss how best to approach the work ahead, ever mindful of its stewardship role regarding this voter-approved bonding capacity,” he says. “The board is looking at best practices and studying integrated project management approaches to prepare for managing the numerous projects and commercial partners in a highly organized and collaborative environment.”

Prop 480 describes three types of projects: outpatient, behavioral and acute care facilities.

“The projects within these three buckets will compromise a substantial portfolio of projects,” Purves says. “It can be a bit daunting to think about them all.”

In the meantime, the district board will work on a timeline “for the proper staging of a project portfolio of this magnitude,” Purves says. He suggested those who are interested in the contract procurement process register at the district’s website to join an email list.

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2 Arizona hospitals designated Ebola treatment centers

Hospital systems in Phoenix and Tucson are among 55 across the United States designated as Ebola treatment centers.

The two Arizona hospital systems designated by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are Maricopa Integrated Health Systems in Phoenix and the University of Arizona Health Network.

MIHS President CEO Steve Purves says the CDC designation for his institution reflects many months of preparation and training by hospital personnel to develop and implement comprehensive protocols for treating Ebola.

There are no confirmed or suspected cases of Ebola in Arizona. Public health officials said the designation is precautionary and that the likelihood of an Ebola patient arriving in Arizona is remote.


2012 Healthcare Leadership Awards Winners & Photos

David Lincoln and the Lincoln family earned Arizona Business Magazine’s first Lifetime Achievement Award to highlight the 5th annual, 2012 Healthcare Leadership Awards Thursday, March 8 at the Arizona Biltmore.

“Even though this is a lifetime award, I hope that I have a lot more life to live,” David Lincoln joked.

Thirteen other awards were presents to honorees, who heard keynote addresses from Dr. Michael Birt, director of the Center for Sustainable Health and interim co-director at ASU’s Biodesign Institute; and Elizabeth Reich, President and CEO, Make-A-Wish Foundation of Arizona.

Congratulations to the 2012 Healthcare Leadership Awards finalists and winners!

View photos of the 2012 Healthcare Leadership Awards on our Facebook!

2012 Healthcare Leadership Awards Winners:

Community Outreach: Ruth Rimmer, Director of Psycho/Social Research, Arizona Burn Center, Maricopa Integrated Health Systems

Institution or Educational Program: Arizona Institute for Breast Health

Insurance Provider or Executive: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona

Volunteer of the Year: Jean Reynolds, Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Dentist of the Year: Tony S. Hashemian, DDS, A.T. Still University Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health

Nurse or Nursing Advocate: Dr. Anne McNamara, Grand Canyon University

Manager of the Year: Brain Shelley, Banner Del E. Webb

Hospital Executive of the Year: Rhonda Anderson, Cardon Children’s Medical Center

Hospital Administrator of the Year: Dr. Edgar Staren, Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Researcher of the Year: Julie Robbins, Battelle

Healthcare Leadership Physician of the Year: Dr. Stephen Pophal, Phoenix Children’s Hospital

Surgeon of the Year: Dr. David Jacofsky, The CORE Institute

Medical Center or Hospital: Thunderbird Medical Center

Lifetime Achievement Award: David Lincoln and the Lincoln Family

Photos of the 2012 Healthcare Leadership Awards reception and ceremony:

Photos: Cory Bergquist

[slickr-flickr tag=”2012-hcla-reception” items=”38″ type=”slideshow” id=”77774765@N07″]

Presenting Sponsors:

CTCA Logo Quarles & Brady Logo
National Bank of Az Health Care Trust of America, Inc.

Event Sponsor:

Arizona Biltmore Resort

Dessert Sponsor:

Scan Health Plan Arizona