20 People Who Make Healthcare Better

HealthLeaders Magazine , December 11, 2008

Stan Hodes, executive chef
For the past 17 years, Stan Hodes' mission as the executive chef and operations manager at Baptist Hospital in Miami has been to create a dining experience for patients, not just a meal. "When I got here, the focus was keep hot food hot, cold food cold, and make sure the tray is accurate," he says. But his experience in the hotel industry gave him a different perspective. "The relationship that you have with your patients and staff is where quality starts," he says.

Baptist offers a room-service-style menu from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to about 40% of its patients. Patients can call to get what they want off of the menu, says Hodes, adding that "if you need something else, call down and order it." The remaining 60% of patients receive a tray that is prescribed by the physician. Since roughly 60% of the patients are Latin, he tailored the menu to include local favorites like red and black beans, rice, sweet potatoes, and marinated fresh meat that is seasoned in local spices and cooked to order.

And just like physicians, Hodes dons his chef jacket and hat and actually rounds on the patients. "Patients don't know a lot about the medical care they are going to get," he says. "One thing they know is food—everyone is an expert when it comes to food."

But Hodes doesn't just want to provide better service and food to patients. He's also trying to improve the lives of employees and community members. As much as possible, he purchases food and supplies from local businesses to keep dollars in the community. And not only does he provide healthy food options—denoted by a health and wellness icon—he also incentivizes the employees, visitors, and members of the community to buy those healthier food items. "The most inexpensive food you can buy is the healthy food. We have a hot and cold entrée of the day with a bottle of water at the register for $3," he says. Even the healthy food items in the vending machines are priced lower, he adds.

So what's the favorite menu item? A grilled fresh turkey cutlet served on corn polenta and topped with a natural tomato and basil balsamic salsa.

—Carrie Vaughan

Bridget Duffy, experience evangelist
It's one thing to say you want to improve the patient experience at your own hospital. But it's quite another thing to say you want to improve it everywhere. Bridget Duffy, MD, knows that if her family and friends ever needed care, they wouldn't necessarily be admitted to the Cleveland Clinic, where she serves as chief experience officer. So she wants to make sure that no matter where the people in her life go, they'll be treated with dignity and respect.

Duffy is an evangelist for improving the way patients are treated—emotionally and physically—no matter where they are. She willingly shares tactics and techniques with other organizations, talks about what works and what doesn't, and offers advice to those who would follow in her footsteps. And there are plenty of those: She's been "inundated" with requests for information from leaders at hospitals and health systems across the country.

Duffy is all business when she's outlining the administrative changes she's made at the clinic, such as creating institute-level experience officers and organizing patient and family advisory councils. But her passion for the subject shines through when she talks about patients and the way they experience healthcare. Take, for example, her objection to those ugly and awkward hospital gowns, which she says strip patients of their identity and dignity from the moment they are admitted. "I'm motivated by my sense of injustice," Duffy says. "We need to restore humanity to healthcare."

The Cleveland Clinic's top 50 leaders recently agreed to put patient satisfaction at the forefront of the organization's strategic plan—and Duffy says the onus is on healthcare leaders nationwide to make similar strides. "This is something that is so missing and so absent from healthcare across the country."

—Gienna Shaw

Curtis J. Schroeder, a CEO abroad
When Curtis J. Schroeder took a job in 1993 to run a small hospital in Thailand, he told his wife it would be an assignment of no more than five years. Fifteen years later, he's still there. The Schroeders stayed in Bangkok and raised their two daughters there while CEO Curtis raised Bumrungrad from a 200-bed private hospital to an international system of 85 facilities in seven countries that cares for about 2 million patients per year.

Schroeder was the first nonphysician, non-Thai hospital CEO in the country, hired to bring the Western style of business management to Bumrungrad. It took many years and a lot of patience to break through longstanding cultural barriers. Perhaps most challenging, Schroeder helped teach the organization about the power of teamwork and decentralized management. "Pushing this down into the organization and developing the middle-management was one of the critical change factors," says Schroeder. "I would say it took me five years, along with some very good help, to begin to change the culture for the Thai and Asian staff to begin to take risks and begin to express opinions freely."

With medical travel now making headlines in the United States, there is a new interest in Bumrungrad's operation. Schroeder estimates Bumrungrad treats about 66,000 Americans annually, with about half of them outbound medical travelers.

"I don't think the American CEOs have to wake up worrying about hospitals in Thailand and Mexico making a significant impact on American healthcare's competitive landscape," Schroeder says. But he also says the potential for the globalization of healthcare is even bigger than the hype. If that is so, new international opportunities for health leaders abound, and there will be healthcare executives following Schroeder's trail markers.

—Rick Johnson


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