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Hospital Start-Ups Benefit from a Fresh Culture and New Technology

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As we wrap up our look at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital (MLKCH) in Los Angeles, Calif., and the benefits of joining a brand-new healthcare organization, we turn now to the ideas of culture and technology.

Culture can be a struggle for any longstanding organization, especially if the leadership is battling one that is toxic and low on morale.

“We had the advantage of starting from the beginning and being able to establish the culture that we wanted for the hospital,” Elaine Batchlor, MD, MPH, chief executive officer, told me in an article I recently wrote about MLKCH. “We were thoughtful about what that culture should be, and we designed our policies and infrastructure to support that culture. More importantly, we hired staff who were in alignment with that culture.”

Employee candidates are evaluated not only for their technical qualifications, but also for their fit and alignment with the organization’s mission. The hospital already has prevention and wellness programs in place, and care coordination tops the list as they work with outpatient providers to strengthen the outpatient network of care.

“We are leading development of an integrated, coordinated system of care that starts before people need us, with prevention and wellness, and includes all aspects of care that people need in the arc of their health life,” she said.

Newer organizations also have the benefit of up-to-date technology that was often part of the original building development plan. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital was designed as an all-digital hospital. When it opened, there were no paper records. The electronic health records platform was already in place, as was its telemedicine program, a patient interactive system in each room, and a patient and physician portal for the EHR.

“We’re designing innovative approaches into our hospital,” Dr. Batchlor said. “We’ve identified best practices and evidence-based protocols that are integrated into our EHR so the physicians who practice here have an easy path to doing the right thing.

“We have the opportunity to create a hospital that is appropriate for the moment that we’re in right now. In creating a new organization, we’re building for healthcare’s present and its future.”

As physicians and advanced practitioners who are looking for jobs, how important is the culture and technology of an organization to you? In your current employment situation, what about the culture and technology satisfies or dissatisfies you the most?

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