Medical Practice Expands its Horizons
Its just one cog in the works that make Baystate Ob/Gyn a successful business as well as medical practice in Western Mass., but it serves as an excellent example of how those two sides of the company must work together at all times in order move forward as a thriving, progressive, and, above all, safe health care business serving women of all ages across the region. Baystate Ob/Gyn has been recognized and lauded for that growth by the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce Super 60 program, which put the practice among the top 10 – number nine – for revenue growth.
“As we expand,” explained Vogt Pisano, “new technology – and the issues implementing that new technology can present – is just one thing that drives us to continue to focus on providing quality care to our patients. It forces us to figure out the best way to implement new procedures, to learn everything we can about them and to value the input of everyone here, and it is one reason why we are providing great care, growing as a business, and can also be recognized for that growth by something like the Super 60.”
Indeed, several changes have been in the works in addition to the introduction of the EMR system at Baystate Ob/Gyn, which will create a paperless office and represents the first step in regional, clinical integration, according to Vogt Pisano, which will likely be ongoing in Western Mass. for the next 10 to 15 years.
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New health care providers have also joined the company in order to focus on the specific needs of women at different stages of life, such as the teenage years, childbearing age, and the golden years. The practices suite of outpatient and minimally invasive surgeries has broadened to offer more comprehensive and convenient care to its patients, including a progressive sterilization procedure called Essure, only available locally through Baystate Ob/Gyn. Bouchard noted that the practice has also begun to focus more on alternative health options for women, in order to provide not only more convenient and comprehensive care, but more holistic care as well.
“For us, better care equals better business, and vice versa,” said Bouchard.
And she and Vogt Pisano agreed that Baystate Ob/Gyn has seen definite signs of that business improvement over the past two years.
“We have no complaints,” Vogt Pisano said. “We increased our business size in 2003, and our provider base increased. What Ive seen since then is the same high level of care for our patients and the same high level of organization within the business, but on a larger scale.”
That expansion in 2003 included a new location, creating a five-office network in Springfield, West Springfield, South Hadley, and East Longmeadow, and necessitating, Vogt Pisano said, a “very intentional culture change” within the business, which now employs about 75 people.
“It has been challenging but enjoyable putting this group together,” she said. “We worked hard to create that new culture because of the specific goals we wanted to achieve; many practices, as they get larger, tend to centralize, but our growth has been very different. Because womens health is so community-based, we have expanded across the region, and yet still understand that it is of the utmost importance to maintain community involvement and a small-practice feel in order to be successful.”
Part of creating a new corporate culture that would preserve the practices accessibility for all types of patients and also grow and change within the increasingly technology-based industry of health care, Vogt Pisano explained, is to recruit physicians, midwives, and other health care providers specializing in a variety of areas within obstetrics and gynecology. That allows the practice to appeal to many age groups – teens, the elderly, and women of child-bearing age, for instance – and allows each physician to concentrate on his or her own specialties, thus improving the quality of care their patients will ultimately receive as they progress in their own careers and professional interests.
“Its also a real draw for physicians that they will be able to focus on their specialties, rather than stretch themselves across a wide gamut of services,” she added, noting that anything that attracts new providers to Massachusetts is a boon for both the economy and the quality of care available in the Commonwealth.
“Its hard to recruit physicians to Massachusetts, particularly in ob/gyn, she said. “We cant ignore the issues surrounding malpractice liability; its a huge issue that will continue to be a challenge. I do believe, however, that the collaborative model we have developed here is helping us to attract the best providers as well as helping us achieve the needed balance between clinical and business issues.”
That model also takes into account several other issues surrounding ob/gyn, including the need for female providers and employees, who relate well to patients, and further diversify the profession, and the inclusion of all employees at all levels within the organization when formulating plans for the future or when problem solving.
Bouchard said she views the businesses model for staff involvement one if its keys for success.
“Everyone has a piece of the pie,” she said. “Were firm believers in understanding first how people do what they do, then asking for their input on issues that they are involved with every day.
“You have to listen to people and appreciate their insights and ideas,” she continued. “That is one way that we balance the clinical and business sides of things, and keep the entire practice in balance.”
And Bouchard added that no other area is affected more by the crossover between clinical and business concerns that technology upgrades at Baystate Ob/Gyn. The practices EMR system, for instance, will be rolled out in stages and is expected to be fully operational and in use by the practices clinical professionals by January. The system will have a notable effect on the streamlining and accessibility of patient information, not to mention the fulfillment of HIPAA privacy and security requirements. But implementing the system has been no easy feat, requiring not only the introduction of a system foreign to all of Baystate Ob/Gyns employees, but also a new, broader way of doing things on an every day basis that employees will have to adjust to.
Its attention to the smaller things that many administrators would otherwise not think of when implementing the system that Vogt Pisano thinks will ultimately make the change a successful one.
Nurses, for instance, were able to collaborate with others to voice their concerns and to rectify them. They told Vogt Pisano they didnt want a system that required a lot of navigation just to get to one portion of a patients record, because that would affect the quality of patient care. They were also concerned about the overall size of the electronic equipment they would be using; both of those concerns, and others, were taken into account when choosing a system and a method of introducing the new procedures.
“I think weve done a good job of it,” Vogt Pisano said. “Everyone has had training. This has been a lot of work, but EMR has become a huge part of our practice, and will be part of our ultimate success. But people are reinventing the wheel constantly when it comes to health care technology, and I think our model is one that will allow us to embrace those new challenges and move forward with positive growth and excellent care.
“Im excited about continuing to offer excellent care to our patients during challenging times.”
Jaclyn Stevenson can be reached at[email protected]