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Q&A with Matthew Schreiber, chief clinical officer at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | August 11, 2017
From the August 2017 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

HCB News: Your appointment completes the C-suite team which has undergone many changes. What are the top challenges you have on your list?
MS: I’ve developed a focus on narrowing clinical variation. It doesn’t matter if you have a different protocol than another health care organization, but it matters that you’ve taken a structured approach and develop that protocol. There’s necessary complexity which you manage through software, training and other support. There’s unnecessary complexity that accrues as time goes on. You start building a house in the 1980s and you keep building rooms until 2020 and take a step back and your house makes no sense. What you were doing at a given time made sense, but when you didn’t have that master plan figured out, nothing makes sense in the end. So part of my goal is to limit that unnecessary complexity.

HCB News: What opportunities do you hope to pursue for the hospital?
MS: I want to manage the public trust. This medical center has made incredible strides in improving safety and quality in recent years. The hospital attained the JCAHO Gold Seal of Approval last year, emergency room wait times have been cut in half and our patient satisfaction numbers have reached as high as the 82nd percentile.

However, we have to increase our transparency about these accomplishments and about what we are doing every day to ensure that we are providing high quality, safe care.

We need to help people understand clinical quality. We need to be much more upfront and make information about clinical quality safety performance and process improvement much more transparent so that our patients and their families can see that this is a hospital that learns their lesson when bad things happen and that we have mechanisms in place to keep them safe and deliver high quality care.

The second focus is making sure the health system is providing value to the community. While the truth is that health systems need to make a margin to keep their doors open, sometimes we invest in things that improve margins as opposed to those things that actually challenge the community. So, instead of investing in a proton beam therapy to treat the five people that might benefit from it in the New York metro area, we look at the community and see that people have a lot of diabetes and hypertension and we need to be really awesome at treating those issues. We need to provide services in an expert way, and in a way that makes it easy to access. Having them arrive in our ER is not the best way to handle it. We should be able to leverage technology to bridge the gap.

Last year, Newark Beth Israel did just that, when the hospital saw a disproportionately high rate of women presenting with stage 3 and 4 breast cancer. They moved forward with opening the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey Breast Health Center to address the need for early diagnosis.

The third thing I want to do is restore a sense of heroism to those that work in health care. In the past, being at your kid’s ballgame, you’d here, “that’s my doctor.” Now, people don’t even feel connected to their provider. At the end of the day, the tie that binds all health care workers is that they came to do good for someone else, even if that work might be hard for them. When we lose that sense of pride, of honor, people lose the passion. It’s meaningful and people should be able to enjoy their job and be proud of what they do because it’s important.

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