IU Health CEO's systemwide tour takeaway: Managing demand at destination hospitals a consistent obstacle

Dennis Murphy, CEO of Indianapolis-based Indiana University Health, completed a 33-stop tour of the health system beginning in March and ending in July.

During the systemwide tour, Mr. Murphy visited 14 IU Health hospitals and 19 affiliated outpatient facilities and support service departments spanning revenue cycle management, a central pathology lab and information systems. The tour, spurred by surveys indicating employees desired more contact with senior executives, featured meet-and-greets, facility rounding and Q&A sessions between Mr. Murphy and health system employees.

"It's a great way to connect one-on-one with frontline team members and listen to their perspectives. In particular, I wanted to hear first-hand where barriers might exist to providing the best care for our patients," Mr. Murphy said.

One barrier consistently affecting IU Health is managing demand at the system's destination hospitals, Mr. Murphy said, especially for patients requiring complex care.

"I found out from team members that their largest consistent obstacle to care involves creating rapid access for patients — referrals or transfers — who need complex care," he said in an emailed response to Becker's Hospital Review. "Occupancy in our destination hospitals is high and how we manage the demand and throughput is a consistent challenge. The good news is that team members had many ideas for solutions."

Another takeaway Mr. Murphy noted from his tour is the effects of substance misuse: "I realized that substance abuse issues in the communities IU Health serves, regardless of the size of our hospital or the community, are significant," he said. "The issue is a daily challenge, from primary care offices to emergency rooms."

Mr. Murphy, who worked at three other academic medical centers prior to joining IU Health in 2013 and becoming CEO in May 2016, said he plans to tour IU Health's facilities regularly to ensure accessible leadership to the system's more than 30,000 employees.

"Creating a positive culture starts by listening to the team and aligning everyone in the system around our collective goals. … This isn't a one-and-done activity." 

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