Becker's Clinical Leadership Virtual Event: 5 Qs with Dr. James Kravec, market chief clinical officer at Mercy Health Youngstown

As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the first Becker's Healthcare Clinical Leadership Virtual Event Sept. 9-10.

James Kravec, MD, market chief clinical officer at Mercy Health Youngstown (Ohio), will serve on the panel, "Top Priorities for Chief Clinical Officers in 2020 and Beyond."

To learn more about the conference and Dr. Kravec's session, click here.

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for style and clarity.

Question: What clinical initiative is taking up most of your time and attention right now?

Dr. James Kravec: I am focusing much of my time on the growth of primary care and the need for increased patient access in offices and in our network. I know that the changing healthcare model will continue to focus on primary care quality metrics and network utilization. This is clear from what I observe and read about, locally and nationally. As we grow the network, we need primary care physicians, as well as increased access points, to allow for the quality measures in primary care to be best realized. 

Q: What is your biggest patient care concern amid the pandemic and how are you working to address it?

JK: I worry about the patients who need chronic care and are choosing to stay home due to concerns about COVID-19. I have said many times that hospitals are safe, but I understand the concerns. We are working on virtual care and making this a mainstay in both primary care offices and hospital settings for physicians and family members who want to virtually visit.  Virtual care was resisted by patients, physicians and payers alike prior to the pandemic, but it seems like we have switched to across-the-board acceptance. 

Q: What's one lesson you learned early in your career that has helped you lead in healthcare?

JK: I have often heard the phrase "that's not my job." I find it to be a statement that can cause a person to be less successful in whatever field he or she may work. We all have roles in our personal and professional life, but there are always times when we are asked to do something that might not "be our job." As I have learned this in all walks of life, it is even more important in healthcare. It doesn't matter what our role is in healthcare — from a physician to nurse to technician to administrator — we are called to get out of our comfort zone and normal routine regularly. In addition, many times as physicians and administrators, we are asked to take on different responsibilities. This may not be "our job," but it separates one leader from another who may not be such a leader. 

Q: What's the most important way clinical leaders can support their team's well-being and resilience during the pandemic?

JK: The well-being of our teams is more important now than ever before. With COVID-19 and the ever-changing clinical information, most clinical caregivers and administrations have taken little time off for many months. This is more prevalent now than I have seen in the past. As a leader, we need to insist that our team takes time away, unplugged. We have coverage, and we should use that now to recharge so we can handle what comes next. 

Q: Where are the biggest opportunities for patient safety or quality improvements in 2020 and beyond?

JK: Although we will continue to focus on hospital-based safety metrics such as Clostridium difficile rates, sepsis mortality and readmissions, the focus is changing to ambulatory-based metrics in my opinion. This year, Mercy Health Youngstown continues to focus our key performance indicators on both. However, the ambulatory metrics such as colon cancer screening and mammography rates, reduction in Hemoglobin A1C and blood pressure control will increase in importance as we focus on overall wellness and reduction in hospitalizations and outpatient management.

More articles on clinical leadership and infection control:

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After month of decline, positive COVID-19 tests rise in late August: 4 CDC findings
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