Transform fear of the unknown into exhilaration for what's next: USC Keck Medicine TJ Malseed's advice for motivating teams

TJ Malseed chief health information officer for Keck Medicine of University of Southern California in Los Angeles, discusses how technology can help improve patient medical access and experience as well as his best advice for motivating teams and establishing improved service outcomes. 

Responses are lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: In the past 12 months, how have you adapted to new patient experience expectations in the age of consumerism?

TJ Malseed: We use robust analytics to manage to patients' biggest needs: quality of care and access to information — from scheduling to aftercare. If we want these services to be substantive and effective, they must be data-driven.

Online Chat functionality for scheduling appointments and self-check-in kiosks in our high traffic areas alleviates some of the biggest headaches for anyone in need of medical care. Online submission of patient forms reduces wait times in the lobby. We've also added mobile charging stations in our waiting areas.

Using patient data safely in our Health Information Exchange with other providers allows more of the type of communication that benefits our patients. That way we can provide informed, accurate service to our patients as they visit Keck Medicine of USC doctors as well as our regional partners. Our portal self-enrollment feature empowers patients to access features like Open Notes, where they can view their own medical records in real time, including lab results, radiology and pathology reports. Patient education through our online portal supports patient learning at any pace, resulting in better outcomes for their services.

Q: Can you share your best advice for motivating your teams?

TM: Healthcare is transforming rapidly. If we're not using our creativity to take measured risks, then we're not keeping pace with the evolution of our industry. We're investing in people who naturally want to be part of something larger than themselves; embodying this in our department disposition at every level instills confidence in high-performing teams to accomplish anything they set their minds to. Don't let perfect be the enemy of good: innovate, make mistakes, improve, master and repeat.

Q: How does your organization gain physician buy-in when it is implementing a new technology or solution?

TM: Our solutions are born of walking in the shoes of our physicians. That means understanding the day-to-day challenges to streamline their clinical experience, from ambulatory clinic visits to complex procedures in the operating room. Physicians are our partners. We engage them in understanding the process and include them in pilots. We partner with them to achieve the same mission.

Q: What is the No. 1 thing you wish you knew before taking a leadership post at your organization?

TM: I can't say there's anything I wish had known, but I think what has been deeply reaffirmed since I started here is that all major successes are driven out of culture. Richard Branson says, 'Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don't want to.' What we're investing in is individuals rather than deliverables. We can't expect staff to embrace change until we transform fear of the unknown into exhilaration for what's next. That's a human need that can't be operationalized without some compassionate integrity.

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