Unlocking capacity with technology: 5Qs with Lisa Stump, SVP and CIO, Yale New Haven Healthcare

Lisa Stump is a dynamic leader and strong IT strategist who believes in the power of technology, data, and digital tools to transform and power health.

Under her leadership, Yale New Haven Health began scaling AI solutions across service lines to solve critical capacity challenges. In this conversation, Stump discusses how she’s made these advances and lessons for other leaders to learn.

Lisa Stump

Question: Can you describe the Yale New Haven Health System? What motivated you to advance its application of technology?

Lisa Stump: Yale New Haven Health System is located mainly in Connecticut, with locations in Rhode Island and New York as well. We have a total of five hospitals across seven campuses, including 2,600 beds, 275 infusion chairs, and 80 operating rooms, staffed overall by 26,000 employees. Annually we see about 2.6 million outpatients and $4.6 billion in revenue.

We’re a high performing health system, but like many others, we deal with incredible capacity pressures. On a given day in the ER, for instance, dozens of patients might wait over 24 hours to be moved to an inpatient bed. We obviously needed to expand our capacity and short of building more facilities, were looking for alternatives to use existing resources more effectively. I saw the opportunity for technology to open up capacity and knew that, if successful, it would do so at a much lower cost than constructing another building.

Q: What were the causes of the capacity challenges at Yale, and where did technology fit in as a tool to help?

LS: Specifically, our capacity pressures were exacerbated by the downstream effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Deferred patient care built a large pent-up demand for care, which in turn reduced patient access and increased wait times. We also saw staffing challenges as staff and leaders responded to COVID challenges in their personal lives by leaving the workforce, reducing their scheduled hours, relocating, or were, themselves, out ill with COVID. Our revenue declined as we delivered fewer services, creating financial challenges.

The technology we already had in place to manage capacity helped somewhat, but had limits. Our EHR and reporting/dashboard tools provided descriptive and diagnostic analytics tools, so that clinicians and staff could identify capacity bottlenecks and why they likely occurred. But we had limited tools that offered predictions or solutions to alleviate or prevent these challenges. In other words, we had limited predictive or prescriptive analytics tools in place. This was where we needed to shift our focus, and where our technology needed to mature and expand.

The ideal technology would match our supply of care capacity with the pent-up demand for it, digitize manual processes to relieve burden on staff, and offer prescriptive and predictive analytics to support informed, proactive, and immediately effective decision making.

Q: What was your process on buying the right technology versus building the solution you needed in-house?

LS: While our internal engineering and data teams were definitely capable of building the solution we needed, this would be a heavy lift for them and take away from the essential work they already did. We ultimately chose to pursue a third party partner, knowing we needed to invest in one who showed a proven commitment to results and offered a clear plan to deliver that value. The partner would also need to share Yale New Haven Health’s future vision for resilience and problem solving in the future, so we could continue to navigate new challenges and build on past success.

Yale New Haven Health had a specific problem to solve, in making well informed capacity decisions easier for staff. We had to leverage our rich source of data and analytics tools and implement additional tools to augment that capability. We needed a partner who understood this problem and these solutions, as well as how they applied to healthcare, not a partner who would vaguely promise to solve every problem without having a clear path to do so. Ultimately, we decided on LeanTaaS, whose iQueue solution suite was built to address these challenges, and whose understanding would be key in our implementation process.

Q:How did you approach implementing your technology, and what results have you seen so far?

LS: We took a phased approach to implementation, across our service lines, and teams tracked their metrics as they adopted iQueue to solve their capacity issues. The positive results they saw built momentum and encouraged them to continue.

We chose two infusion facilities in which to pilot iQueue for Infusion Centers, covering a total of 60 beds. In three months of implementation, we unlocked a 13% increase in completed appointments without the need for additional hours or staff. iQueue for Inpatient Beds supported a shift to more proactive census management across the nearly 1,500 beds it covered. LeanTaaS partnered with us closely throughout the process, and we leveraged our internal leaders who already had experience with their solutions.

It has been clear even in early stages that we are creating the ability to relieve capacity challenges and to grow capacity within the footprint we already have.

Q: What advice do you have for other health systems facing similar problems to Yale New Haven Health?

LS: Assess what problem you truly need to solve, then whether your organization needs outside resources to help solve it. If you do need a third party partner, look beyond what might be trendy and find one who shares your vision and is equipped to actually address your problem.

Ensure that your operational leaders, those who live this and do this work every day, are deeply engaged in designing the solution. To this end, finding clinical and operational champions within the organization and securing their commitment is critical.

Throughout the process, leverage your teams’ small wins and give them a venue to share their success with each other. This will also open up opportunities to collaborate on overall change management and discover the best ways your organization can use the solution. Ongoing encouragement and celebration of wins also strengthens employee buy-in. As it goes on, the positive outcome metrics will speak for themselves.

To learn more from Lisa Stump about scaling technology across an enterprise, watch her on-demand fireside chat from our recent Transform: Hospital Operations Virtual Summit.

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