Belief in ‘WE’

Dave Blom, President, OhioHealth

Dave Blom, President, OhioHealth

Not even Dave Blom can predict where exactly the health care reform will leave his industry. But he does know that OhioHealth, the umbrella of not-for-profit, faith-based hospitals and health care organizations where he’s president, will survive the changes if “they” unite as “we.”

OhioHealth’s new branding campaign reflects this cohesiveness with the idea that, “WE are more than a health system. WE are a belief system,” as it says on the website. Blom needs a true team, not just a collection of more than 40 care sites, to innovate and improve the quality of care that OhioHealth provides. So he leads OhioHealth on a pursuit of “systemness” — building teamwork and applying best practices with the common vision of improving the convenience and quality of health care for all members of the community, regardless of their ability to pay.

Because of this, Smart Business, U.S. Bank and Blue Technologies named Blom to the 2011 class of Columbus Smart Leader honorees. He shared how OhioHealth overcomes the changes in health care with cohesiveness and curiosity.

Give us an example of a business challenge you and/or your organization faced, as well as how you overcame it.

It is no secret that health care is undergoing major change and has been for some time. We also know with health care reform, the changes are going to intensify. But no one really knows exactly how or to what degree — there is still a large degree of uncertainty. What we do know is that we have to change how we deliver care. We have to learn to do more with less while always delivering value. Most importantly, at all times, we must maintain and improve quality, access and service.

OhioHealth has been on a ‘systemness’ journey for a few years now, and it has really intensified in the last couple of years, given the changing health care landscape. We are our community’s leading provider of health care, and it is our responsibility to ensure we are positioned to meet our mission in the future. The challenge we faced is that the more than 40 care sites under the OhioHealth umbrella have largely functioned independently in the past. That approach just won’t cut it as health care changes.

Today, we are not only deploying best practices across our organization; we are looking at all processes throughout our organization. It goes even deeper — it’s about a culture shift. We’re asking our associates and physicians to think differently about what they do and how we can do it better together, and they are making it happen. Today, we have more than 35 teams with hundreds of associates and physicians working on projects that will strengthen both our organization and how we deliver care.

It is a work in progress, but we are making great strides. The organization has achieved quality and service levels worthy of national recognition and a workplace culture noted by Fortune magazine as a best place to work, while lowering costs and achieving efficiency levels that will position the organization for the inevitable pressures of a changing health care industry.

The strategy has created cohesiveness, as exemplified by our new branding campaign: Believe in WE. It represents how we are committed to working together to do what’s best for our patients. And that is in partnership with our patients and the community; they are a part of WE.

In what ways are you an innovative leader, and how does your organization employ innovation to be on the leading edge?

At the heart of innovation is a healthy sense of curiosity. It is important to give people an outlet to explore how their ideas can be translated and applied in a meaningful way, especially in an organization comprised of caregivers who already have a natural instinct to improve the lives of others.

In 2006, we introduced the OhioHealth Research and Innovation Institute. OHRI offers an array of services to support clinicians in conducting investigational research studies that could eventually impact the standard of care for our patients. Whether it is a medical breakthrough, a new procedure or a medical device, OHRI supports the process of taking innovative ideas that have the potential to improve the delivery of health care from concept and research to commercialization.

In fact, new medical products developed by OhioHealth clinicians and first introduced at OhioHealth’s hospitals are now marketed internationally.

How do you make a significant impact on the community and regional economy?

OhioHealth’s most significant impact is on the health of our community. Our facilities and services are spread out geographically so we are available when and where patients need health care.

That takes 21,000 associates, physicians and volunteers who not only work in and around Columbus; they also live here and take pride in their communities. That is a powerful force in the economic health of central Ohio.

As a not-for-profit health care system, every dollar OhioHealth earns is reinvested in our community to improve quality of care, increase access to care and enhance service to patients and their families. One of the most tangible measures of that investment is the amount of community benefit we provide each year.

In 2010, OhioHealth provided $191 million in community benefit, exceeding the amount of taxes we would have paid if we were a for-profit business. More than $80 million of that was charity care for members of our community who are uninsured and lack the ability to pay for care.

How to reach: OhioHealth,

See all 2011 Columbus Smart Leaders on the next page.