Habitual Excellence — 74: Washington Health System CEO Brook Ward on Innovation and Iteration for Nursing and Patient Care

President and CEO of Washington Health System

Episode page: https://valuecapturellc.com/he74

Welcome to Episode #74 of Habitual Excellence, presented by Value Capture.

Joining us today as our guest is Brook Ward, the President and CEO of Washington Health System (WHS) in Washington County, Pennsylvania, in that role since July 2019. From 2010 to June 2019, he served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.

In his role, Brook provides leadership, direction, and administration across the entire Washington Health System, which includes a large community hospital, a small rural hospital, a 70-provider physician group, a community wellness center, residency and fellowship programs, a school of nursing program and onsite medical simulation center and joint ventures in the areas of hospice, senior living, home health, cancer center and others.

Brook is a graduate of Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids MI, with a master’s degree in Public Administration (MPA). He also has a Bachelor of Science in Health Care System Administration from Ferris State University, Big Rapids MI and received an Associates of Allied Science in Radiology from Ferris State University.

Today we’re going to be talking about how the WHS has never (I repeat, never) used a traveler nurse in their system. Acknowledging the travel nurses are skilled and they’re good people, Brook makes a compelling case that quality and safety is better with full time staff members who are not “strangers” to the organization and how they do things. Brook also discusses the program that they created (and continue to iterate) that’s win/win/win for the system, staff, and patients.

In today’s episode, Brook talks with host Mark Graban, about topics and questions, including:

  • How bad are the staffing challenges in your area?
  • Biggest concern – not just economics, but safety for patients and staff
  • Great people, but there’s a risk… safety, morale, not knowing our systems
  • It’s their “fourth or fifth iteration” — what’s the latest iteration and change?
  • Staff get almost the same comp by picking up extra shifts, without needing to travel
  • Telling peers about it — can’t get people too interested?? Why?
  • Expense gets talked about more… is there research about the impact? Future retrospective studies??
  • Iteration — Impact of extra shifts over time??
  • Meeting with nurses to learn what’s working and not working
  • Risk of burnout and fatigue — constant dialogue
  • PILOT — Inpatient innovation unit to pilot and test things around team-based nursing
  • So speaking of safety, you created a safety index — tell us about that? “Washington Hospital Patient Safety Score”
  • Tell us about the Washington Performance System — respect, their version of Lean/TPS — your key influences??
  • “Permission to try things and fail” — how to create that culture?

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