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Celebration of Excellence showcases Health System’s advances and improvements

Celebration of Excellence: Keynote speaker Amy C. Edmondson, Ph.D.
Keynote speaker Amy C. Edmondson, Ph.D., talked about how fear can negatively impact health care delivery, leading to mistakes and failures that can compromise quality and safety.

Programs and initiatives that have enhanced patient care and safety, employee satisfaction and engagement, and campuswide efficiency were recognized at the UT Southwestern Health System’s Celebration of Excellence on April 26.

William Daniel, M.D., Vice President and Health System Chief Quality Officer, hosted the event, sharing team wins in the categories of People, Quality, Service, and Financial Stewardship.

Now in its sixth year, the event honors advances of all kinds across multiple service lines. In all, 221 teams submitted poster competition entries on projects to improve care in the categories of People, Quality, Service, and Financial Stewardship – 82 more than last year. These initiatives led to improved access for patients, shorter hospital stays, and many other areas of growth across the Medical Center’s clinical enterprise.

Jonathan Efron, M.D., Executive Vice President for Health System Affairs, highlighted several areas of significant growth across the Health System in the last year. One example is a burgeoning transplant program. UT Southwestern recently performed its 1,500th kidney transplant, its 1,000th lung transplant, and its 1,000th liver transplant. Additionally, over 2,000 bone marrow transplants have been completed to date.

“Transplant hasn’t just grown, but it’s grown in the right way. In addition to being the first to offer transplants in the North Texas region, we also have the highest quality, lowest mortality, and lowest length of stay in the region and even nationally for some specialties,” Dr. Efron said.

Watch: Intro, Opening, and Year in Review

Growing for success

Jonathan Efron, M.D., Executive Vice President for Health System Affairs, presented a Year in Review.

The institution has also recently launched building projects for several new facilities designed to best serve the patients of North Texas and address projected growth. These include a new pediatric campus in partnership with Children’s Health across the street from William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital, as well as the Texas Behavioral Health Center at UT Southwestern, which will offer inpatient, transitory, and outpatient care for both pediatric and adult patients. The Texas Behavioral Health Center, slated to open in 2025, is the result of a partnership between UTSW and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

“UT Southwestern has a commitment to helping with the national and worldwide crisis in mental health,” Dr. Efron said. “We have created a program that’s unique, innovative, and patient-centered.”

Recipients of the Poster Presentation competition received awards in the categories of People, Quality, Service, and Financial Stewardship.

In opening remarks to the several hundred attendees gathered in the Tom and Lula Gooch Auditorium, and more watching online, UTSW President Daniel K. Podolsky, M.D., emphasized that although UT Southwestern was thriving after demonstrating incredible grit and resilience through the COVID-19 pandemic, the Health System should not rest on its laurels. To accomplish more as a team, he said, every member of the UTSW community must feel free to voice opinions and concerns.

“It will take everyone raising their hand and speaking up when we see a way we can do anything better and, importantly, when we see something we’re not doing right,” he said. “That has to be the cornerstone of everything we do here.”

Encouraging fearlessness

Keynote speaker Amy C. Edmondson, Ph.D., expanded on Dr. Podolsky’s remarks. As the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School, she focuses on the study of human interactions that lead to the creation of successful enterprises contributing to the betterment of society. An international expert on teaming, organizational learning, and psychological safety, Dr. Edmondson has published in numerous academic and management outlets, and her books include The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth and last year’s Right Kind of Wrong: The Science of Failing Well.

The audience was captivated by this year’s keynote speaker.

Dr. Edmondson spoke about how fear can negatively impact health care delivery, leading to mistakes and failures that can compromise quality and safety. Medical institutions can counter these risks by fostering environments of psychological safety, she said, defining the term as “a belief that your work environment is safe, it permits interpersonal risk, speaking up with an idea, an improvement, a question where you’re not sure what to do, a concern, or a mistake.”

“Please know it doesn’t mean those things are easy, but you believe they’re expected,” she said.

Detailing examples from hospital neonatal intensive care units and cardiovascular units, as well as from such companies as Google and Ford Motor Co., Dr. Edmondson illustrated how encouraging all members of an organization to speak up can prevent errors, push innovation, and promote employee engagement. Leaders can support psychological safety by practicing humility, curiosity, and empathy with team members and throughout an organization.

“The bottom line is that you need to make honesty and transparency a positive experience,” she said.

Watch: Keynote speaker

Examples of excellence

Following Dr. Edmondson’s keynote speech and a “fireside chat” with Health System leaders, poster project winners were announced in the categories of People, Quality, Service, and Financial Stewardship. (See related videos at right.)

One of this year’s featured projects expanded oncology patients’ access to weekend care for acute medical concerns. Another improved engagement and satisfaction among certified medical office assistants (CMOAs) in the Primary Care Clinic at the Monty and Tex Moncrief Medical Center at Fort Worth.

Oncology patients at the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center are more likely to make after-hours calls for medical concerns on weekends and holidays. Although the Simmons Acute Care Clinic offers patients urgent care visits as an alternative to the Emergency Department, it was not previously open on weekends. To improve access, the Acute Care Clinic began offering Saturday appointments in July 2023. A Simmons Cancer Center team’s analysis found that oncology patients’ Emergency Department visits decreased significantly after Saturday appointments became available.

Before and after the event, attendees explored a gallery of poster presentations outside Gooch Auditorium.

The Moncrief project focused on feedback to increase engagement among CMOAs. Before the Primary Care Clinic at Moncrief opened in January 2022, the CMOAs who work there were in private practice. At the Primary Care Clinic, their roles were limited, particularly with medication administration. Through a collaborative approach including CMOAs, nursing, operations, and medical director stakeholders, administrators expanded the list of CMOA-administered medications for all nonhospital ambulatory clinic sites. All CMOAs at the Primary Care Clinic reported increased levels of satisfaction and engagement after the change.

“When we look at where we are today, we have an enormous amount to be proud of. But from where we are now, there’s still more to do,” Dr. Podolsky said. “I can’t say how thrilled I am to celebrate what you all have accomplished, knowing that the best is yet to come.”

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