What if you were given the opportunity to start a hospital from scratch? What if you had to build a road where there was no road?
These were the questions posed by the founders of Walnut Hill Medical Center, a state-of-the-art hospital that opened its doors last spring in Dallas. And for the physician-led group that made the dream a reality (by creating a management company to build the facility), the answer was simple.
Walnut Hill would be founded on a culture where customer service is the top priority.
So far the philosophy has paid off, with Forbes magazine dubbing it “the Hospital Steve Jobs would have built” and applauding its vision to “reimagine health care and the patient experience” by leveraging philosophies used by Apple and Ritz-Carlton to improve service.
“It’s an environment that’s all about the patient,” says CIO Aaron Miri, who welcomed the chance to lead an organization that was truly starting fresh. “Dallas didn’t need another hospital; it needed something different.”
That something, according to Miri — who has held various health IT positions in Texas over the past decade—was the ability and willingness to leverage technology to improve the patient experience.
During his presentation at the CHIME15 Fall CIO Forum, Miri talked about the “leap of faith” Walnut Hill’s founders took in creating a new organization, and the unique opportunity he and other senior leaders have to become trendsetters when it comes to approaching the patient experience.
“The importance of leveraging the patient as part of their own care plan cannot be overstated,” he notes. “You have to build an environment of care around them, leveraging technology around them.”
To that end, Walnut Hill equips each patient room with an iPad and a TV, both of which can be used to watch educational videos that have been prescribed by care providers. When the patient views a video, it is then entered into the record. While many patients enjoy using iPads, TV is still the preferred medium when it comes to hospital interactions; at home, most prefer to be communicated with via text message, Miri says.
Boards containing information on what medications are being given and the name of all care providers have also been installed in each room, right next to the TV. The messaging and wording? As simple as possible.
“We’ve found that if it’s not quick and easy, it’s not going to be used,” notes Miri.
It’s precisely that attention to detail that he believes will help Walnut Hill continue to increase market share in the Dallas market.
And in fact, the message seems to be taking hold. According to information presented by Miri, 81 percent of patients said they would “definitely” recommend the hospital to friends and family, and 13 percent “probably” would endorse it.
And although there are things Miri admits he would have done differently — namely developing a slower implementation timeline — he seems to have no regrets about paving a new road.