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Ford, Eric, W., PhD

Journal of Healthcare Management: May-June 2018 - Volume 63 - Issue 3 - p 143–144
doi: 10.1097/JHM-D-18-00058


After a winter punctuated by the “bombogenesis” weather phenomenon, summer is finally making its welcome approach. And if a trip to the beach is on your calendar, you will find plenty to read in this issue of the Journal of Healthcare Management.

In addition to our usual lineup—healthcare leader interview, featured columns, and research articles with practitioner applications—we are publishing three research articles with practitioner applications exclusively online. They are listed in the table of contents and summarized in the print version. These special e-articles bring added attention to JHM's enhanced online edition, which also offers other useful features including a digital archive, improved search capabilities, customizable article collections, e-alerts, and more. This summer will bring other new online-only features, possibly including a podcast of the healthcare leader interviews. Stay tuned.

This month's interview features Ashley R. McClellan, FACHE. McClellan is the 2018 recipient of the Robert S. Hudgens Memorial Award for Young Healthcare Executive of the Year, presented by the American College of Healthcare Executives to recognize individuals who make remarkable achievements early in their careers. As CEO of The Woman's Hospital of Texas in Houston, McClellan more than merits such recognition. In our conversation, she highlights the unique challenges in leading an organization that serves a specific population.

Employee wellness is another aspect of population health that is garnering wide attention. Continuing our yearlong theme of caring for the caregivers, Donna L. Bodin shares successful tactics in launching wellness programs. As vice president for employee and wellness services, she describes how Woman's Hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, developed its award-winning initiatives and makes a strong case for other health systems to make similar investments.

Our second column explores the topic of sustaining relevance, going beyond the hospital and into the larger community to show how healthcare organizations can effectively engage with other local industries. Author Linda S. Hunt, RN, senior vice president of operations for Arizona Dignity Health in Phoenix, cochairs a leadership council that promotes healthcare's vital impact on the regional economy.

The first research article, by Kathryn Fingar, PhD, et al., examines the shifting patient reimbursement mixes at safety-net hospitals (SNHs) compared to other facilities. The study finds that Medicaid beneficiaries are shifting away from SNHs to other types of facilities. One explanation for the change is that competition is increasing and non-safety-net hospitals are marketing to Medicaid populations to increase patient volumes. With SNHs already under financial pressure, this dynamic may put more organizations in an unsustainable position.

In their article, Andre S. Avramchuk, PhD, and Stephen J.J. McGuire, PhD, delve into the measurement of patient safety culture. They created a survey instrument to assess healthcare organizations' patient safety climate and use it to predict health outcomes. Trying to measure an organization's culture is a difficult management research endeavor—and linking it to an outcome even more so. The researchers' efforts show promise in addressing this important topic in a systematic way.

Extreme weather can wreak havoc on healthcare organizations. In their article, Tamar Wyte-Lake, DPT, Anne R. Griffin, RN, and Aram Dobalian, PhD, JD, describe the VHA New York Harbor System's response to Superstorm Sandy. During extended periods of closure, an organization's culture and managers' communication skills are put to the test. Maintaining two-way interactions is of paramount importance. The authors note that when staff from multiple facilities are temporarily mixed together, resultant challenges bring the potential for culture clashes.

In their article, Na-Eun Cho, PhD, Weiling Ke, Bebonchu Atems, and Jongwha Chang address communication of another sort—electronic. The ubiquity of health information technology (HIT) in hospitals is undeniable, but its impact on hospital performance remains open for debate. How managers implement HIT is a crucial factor in its effectiveness. Cho's team looks at the breadth and depth of HIT use and how it affects performance. Balance is necessary, and the article provides several insights that managers can use to achieve that.

The first of three online-only articles, a literature review by Candice L. Thomas, PhD, et al., looks at how teams coordinate care activities and how those interactions are measured. They find physical proximity and planning to be the most consistently studied facet of healthcare. Clearly, many studies are omitting other key aspects of management such as culture, communication, and technology from their models.

Armine Lulejian, PhD, and Michael Cantor, MD, look at another way to improve patient satisfaction: using digital technology for self-registration. The registration process presents a big opportunity for cost savings and process improvement. Although the patients in this study liked using tablets to self-register, the staff disliked the change to their workflow. The need to respect staff culture while implementing change comes into play. Perhaps longer timeframes for cultural study would show whether the dissatisfaction is transitory or lasting.

The final online-only article, by Thomas M. English, PhD, David Masom, and Marilyn V. Whitman, PhD, takes up the communication challenge with diabetes care in the second online-only article. In particular, the researchers explore the benefits of helping patients become better care navigators as a strategy to improve communication and coordination. The patient navigation program under study both yielded better patient awareness and made a positive impact on health status. Presumably, the patients in the program were also more satisfied with their experience.

© 2018 Foundation of the American College of Healthcare Executives