ProMedica Health System’s President and CEO Randy Oostra will be among the featured panelists at Hospitals & Health Networks' Executive Forum Health Care Outlook 2017 Oct. 25–26 in Chicago. He shares some thoughts on what it means to pursue an idea-driven, creative and strategic culture.

How has ProMedica created and sustained a culture of innovation?

OOSTRA: Every year, we survey all our employees about our strategic plan and what we should pursue relative to our mission, vision and values. We did the same thing when the Affordable Care Act rolled out, and our employees chose innovation as one of our core values. So, we began a series of projects based on staff suggestions. We have unstructured meetings for transforming the future at all levels of the organization. We find that an open agenda makes for the best meetings — the front-line people know what needs to be done.

In addition, we now have now a more formal process for vetting new safety and care process ideas through an innovations group within the system. We’ve built a business incubator that has gone from 5,000 to 10,000 square feet, and we partnered with the Cleveland Clinic to bring some of these ideas to market.

How do you achieve physician buy-in to innovate and transform their work?

OOSTRA: We employ so many of our physicians now. It’s a more team-based environment, so we essentially work with them in the same way as we do with the rest of our staff. Starting with orientation, we maintain communication with them around safety, innovation and leadership development. We have several physicians in leadership roles — an emergency medicine clinician currently leads our safety program — and when doctors see their peers in these roles, it motivates them to participate, as well.

Given your passion for addressing the social determinants of health care, what kinds of innovations is ProMedica working on?

OOSTRA: There are a number of things we need to do outside the four walls of our hospitals. Those include realizing there is no physical health without mental health, reducing infant mortality, addressing hunger as a health issue and helping people find jobs. In fact, we have an economic development committee on our board to help create local jobs.

In addressing hunger, several years ago, we realized that obesity, poor nutrition and hunger were all connected. We now screen patients for food insufficiency in our physicians’ offices and, if they need access to healthy food, they are given a prescription for a “food pharmacy” to get that food. In the first six months of this year, we’ve screened 57,000 patients for food insecurity, and provided 100,000 pounds of food by partnering with community food reclamation resources.

Next, we want to create a broader tool that can screen patients for exposure to violence, mental health needs, adequate housing and transportation issues, and then find resources to address those problems. We will plug all that data into our Epic (EMR) system, so all our providers and community resources are connected. That’s the next piece of health care — screening for these social issues — and when we see gaps, asking, 'What are we going to do about it?'