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The BMC Brief

November 2, 2011 Volume 1, Issue 12

BMC Receives High Marks on Leapfrog Hospital Recognition Program

Boston Medical Center (BMC) scored in the top 20 percent in the annual Leapfrog Hospital Recognition Program. More than than a thousand hospitals across 43 states participated in the program that scores hospitals on their quality, resource use and value. The program evaluates hospitals’ clinical areas such as Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE), outcomes of high risk procedures like bariatric surgery, high-risk deliveries and hospital-acquired conditions such as pressure ulcers and safe practices. This is the first time BMC has participated in the program.

Leapfrog logo

“We were very pleased to score so well as a first-time participant,” says Stanley Hochberg, MD, Vice President, Patient Safety and Quality. “The LeapFrog Group is composed of large employers who are committed to purchasing health care services based on quality and affordability. Positive recognition by this group illustrates that the high quality care we deliver day in and day out is recognized and appreciated across all segments of the health care market.”

The information assessed in the Leapfrog Hospital Recognition Program is acquired through hospitals’ voluntary reporting of their safety, quality and efficiency standards in the Leapfrog Hospital Survey. BMC participated in that survey for the first time earlier this year and emerged as a patient safety leader among Boston hospitals.

“BMC not only scored very well overall on the survey, but also met the full standard in many areas,” says Hochberg.

The purpose of the Leapfrog Hospital Recognition Program is to help health plans recognize and reward hospitals that demonstrate excellence or improvement in key areas.

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BMC Brings Outpatient Pharmacy In House, Reaps Savings

When David Twitchell, PharmD, MBA, joined Boston Medical Center (BMC) in June as Director of Pharmacy, plans to transition the management of the Outpatient Pharmacy from Boston Pharmacy Management to BMC were in full swing.

“Pharmacy management, along with Human Resources and Project Management, were planning for new in-house systems for payroll and cash collections and the onboarding of 45 staff,” says Twitchell. “There were a lot of moving pieces that required a tremendous amount of work and collaboration with others. We are thrilled to report that we completed the transition on schedule and within budget.”

David Twitchell 
David Twitchell, PharmD, MBA, Director, Pharmacy

On Oct. 1, BMC officially took over the Outpatient Pharmacy, a service that had been outsourced for 15 years. The decision to bring the two pharmacies, located on the ground level of Yawkey Ambulatory Care Center (YACC) and the Doctors’ Office building (DOB), in house was based on cost and operational savings, says Twitchell.

“By insourcing the pharmacies, BMC will save $1 million this year in personnel expenses and collect $7 million in revenue. Managing the previous outsourced systems also will give us the flexibility we need to grow our infrastructure and look at new ways to service our patients more efficiently.”

The transition to the new system was seamless for patients, with no reduction in hours or closures, and the processing of the average 2,800 prescriptions a day at both locations was unaffected, Twitchell said.

“This project was a collaboration of Pharmacy management, Information Technology Services and Facilities. It was a great team effort in which members stepped up, took ownership and acted as key stakeholders who drove the project to completion,” says Patricia Hite, Administrative Director, Outpatient Pharmacy.

Outpatient Pharmacy By the Numbers

  • 70 employees
  • 2,800 average prescriptions filled each day
  • 690,000 prescriptions filled a year
  • $1 million in cost savings FY12
  • $25 million revenue each year
  • $7 million profit FY12

‘Face’ of BMC

On a recent Friday morning, the YACC Outpatient Pharmacy was hopping. Patients were waiting in chairs, leaning against walls and mill around the room, waiting for their names to be called and for customers to complete their transactions at pick-up windows.

The wait times prior to the Oct. 1 transition averaged two hours in the YACC pharmacy and one hour in the DOB pharmacy. The wait was due in large part to there being only one cash register and one credit card machine for the nine check-out windows in YACC ( and five in DOB) to share. Since the transition, each pick-up window has been outfitted with a computer that processes credit and cash transactions and a system that tracks patients’ prescriptions. Twitchell notes that one of the benefits of the transition is an expected decline in wait times.

Prescriptions ready for pick up in the Yawkey Outpatient Pharmacy

Staffing changes were also a large part of the transition, with the majority of staff employed by the contract company. Many had worked in the Outpatient Pharmacy for years, and when the transition came, 45 came on board as BMC employees.

“Many of our employees are on a first-name basis with our customers,” says Hite. “Most of the former outsourced employees had been wearing the BMC ID badge for years and felt they were already a BMC employee and part of the organization. Now it is reality.”

“We are the public face of BMC,” she continues. “We help shape patients’ experiences. Our goal is to continue to improve our business by providing excellent, compassionate customer service.”

The DOB Outpatient Pharmacy is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m., and closed Saturday and Sunday. The YACC Outpatient Pharmacy is open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; and closed Sunday. Learn more about the Outpatient Pharmacy.

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Spira Receives $13.6M Grant to Develop Tools for the Early Detection of Lung Cancer

Avrum Spira, MD, MSc, Chief, Computational Biomedicine at BMC, and Associate Professor of Medicine, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), will direct a study aimed at developing novel technologies for the early detection of lung cancer. For this work, BUSM has received a $13.6 million grant for the five-year multi-site, multi-phase study that will focus on active military personnel and veterans. The funding is provided by the United States Department of Defense (DOD) Lung Cancer Research Program.

Avrum Spira

Avrum Spira, MD, MSc

Spira and his team will collaborate with military hospitals and Veteran’s Affairs medical centers across the country that collectively have the ability to investigate a large number of patients and gain access to a diverse variety of researchers and tools. The Detecting Early Lung Cancer Among Military Personnel (DECAMP) Consortium represents the largest consortium of researchers dedicated to identifying non-invasive ways to detect lung cancer early.

Smoking rates among military personnel are about 50 percent higher than the civilian population, and veterans in particular are 25-75 percent more likely to develop lung cancer than non-veterans. There has been an increase in smoking among members of the armed forces stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the rate is 50 percent higher in deployed vs. non-deployed personnel. Additionally, the exposure of other substances in the air when in combat, including radon, asbestos and fuel exhaust, is elevated among military personnel.

“Current lung cancer detection methods involve invasive procedures that are often done only after symptoms occur, and by that time, the cancer has spread outside of the lungs and can be difficult to treat,” said Spira. “Using advanced imaging techniques and testing molecular biomarkers that indicate risk of a future lung cancer diagnosis will help in the development of non-invasive, accurate methods to detect lung cancer before it becomes untreatable.”

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What Do You Do, Ellen Kolton?

Name: Ellen Kolton
Title: Patient Advocate
Department: Patient Advocacy Program
Years at BMC: 3

Ellen Kolton
Ellen Kolton

What brought you to BMC?
I knew I wanted to be a patient advocate before I even came to BMC. After working as a journalist for 20 years, I decided to make a career change. At the time, several family members had died after I felt they had slipped through the cracks in the hospital system. I wasn’t an effective voice for them, and I thought, this something I would like to do, so I enrolled in Boston University’s School of Public Health and earned a Master’s degree in public health. After graduating in 2000, I worked as a patient advocate at Massachusetts General Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center before joining BMC’s Patient Advocacy Program in 2009.

What do you do here?
My job is to address the problems and concerns of patients here. This could mean anything from helping resolve a miscommunication issue between a patient and caregiver or arranging a family meeting for a patient who is seriously ill or retrieving a blanket for a patient. Sometimes it’s just letting people vent and listening to them. The other two patient advocates and I are here to let patients know that there is an ear here for them.

What do you like about your job?
Many things. I like the diversity of the day, since it is never routine, as well as interacting with people at all levels of the organization. I find BMC to be a respectful workplace where people really listen. And it helps to work with a great team.

Patient Advocacy sounds like it can be tough.
It can be. We see around 2,000 cases a year and a large number of calls are from staff seeking support. I’ve heard people say that they would not want to do our jobs, since we often are called in to de-escalate a situation. I’ve compared it to trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon. If you focus on the ocean, it’s overwhelming; however, I try to focus on the teaspoon and think, maybe I’ve made one person happier today. It’s about small victories.

What do you do in your spare time?
I do a lot of yoga and walking. I also enjoy spending time with my family, gardening, reading and going to the movies. Writing is a passion of mine and and my goal is to someday write a book about being a patient advocate.

Do you know a staff member who should be profiled? Send your suggestions to communications@bmc.org.

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In Their Words

Patients share their BMC experience

Letter writing 

I am writing to commend a Pharmacy employee, Ms. Felicia Bruno. After one week without my medications for anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, and after 48 hours of trying to get a hard-copy prescription from my primary care physician’s office, I made two trips to the pharmacy and the medicine was nowhere to be found. Ms. Bruno, however, after hearing about my predicament, and after expressing professional compassion, sent another Pharmacy staff member down to a holding area, located the medications and gave my much-needed medicine to me.

I wish to commend this employee for going the extra mile, for caring about people and for being a super person.

Allston, Mass.

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News of Note

Thea James 
Thea James, MD

James named to National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence
Physician Thea James, MD, Emergency Department’s Violence Intervention Advocacy Program, has been named to the Attorney General’s National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence. The task force comprises 14 leading experts from diverse fields and perspectives, including practitioners, child and family advocates, academic experts and licensed clinicians. Over the course of the year, the task force will conduct four public hearings around the country to learn from practitioners, policymakers, academics and community members about the extent and nature of the problem of children’s exposure to violence in the United States, both as victims and as witnesses. Then the task force will present a report to the attorney general of its findings and policy recommendations. The report will serve as a blueprint for preventing children’s exposure to violence and for mitigating the negative effects experienced by children exposed to violence across the United States.

Jane Mendez
Jane Mendez, MD

Breast health physicians participate in Komen Foundation’s Catwalk for a Cure
Jane Mendez, MD, Surgical Oncology and Surgical Endocrinology, donned a pink dress Oct. 13 for Catwalk for a Cure, a breast cancer charity fashion event that supports breast cancer research through the Massachusetts Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®.

Humor reigns at An Evening for Cancer Survivors
BMC honored its cancer survivors Oct. 18 at An Evening for Cancer Survivors, hosted by Cancer Care Services. The event featured Loretta LaRoche, an acclaimed speaker, author and humorist. LaRoche charmed the audience with her wit and wisdom on life, reminding the group to live “in the present” and to wear your “party pants” every day. The event attracted 75 patients and their families.

TranSComm celebrates 20 years
TranSComm (Transportation Solutions for Commuters, Inc.), the group that coordinates the transportation needs of staff and students of BMC, Boston University Medical Campus (BUMC) and Boston Healthcare for the Homeless, celebrated its 20th anniversary Oct. 18. Festivities included cake and awards for staff and those who helped launch the program. “We were one of the first successful shared services on the BUMC campus,” said Maureen Lacey, Director.

Public Safety Awards ceremony
Stephanie Lovell, Sternie Williams, Eddie Jackson and Leroy Lynch

Public Safety officers honored
BMC and BUMC honored its Public Safety officers at the third annual Public Safety Awards Ceremony. Twenty officers were recognized for their years of service, ranging from five to 35 years, and nine commendation awards were given out, including three to BMC/BUMC staff. “There are two kinds of people: those who run toward danger and those who run away from it,” said BMC’s Stephanie Lovell, Senior Vice President, Administration, General Counsel, to the crowd. “When your day-in, day-out job is to run toward danger, that is extraordinary. I thank you on behalf of everyone at Boston Medical Center.”

BMC staff in denim
BMCers wear denim to raise money for cancer patients

BMCers don denim to raise funds for cancer patients
Staff from Radiology, Radiation Oncology, Hematology/Oncology, Cancer Clinical Trials, Cancer Support Services, Surgical Oncology, Finance and the Center for Digestive Disorders wore jeans to work Oct. 21 to benefit cancer patients. In exchange for wearing jeans, staff donated a minimum of $5 to BMC’s Cancer Care Services, raising $2,374 total. The money will fund wigs and prosthetics for newly diagnosed BMC breast cancer patients who are not able to afford them.

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Awards and Accolades

Richard Babayan, MD, Chief and Chair of Urology, was honored recently by the Armenian American Health Professional Organization (AAHPO) for his exceptional contributions to medicine in both the United States and in Armenia.

Karen Antman
Karen Antman, MD

Karen Antman, MD, Provost of Boston University Medical Campus (BUMC) and Dean of the School of Medicine, has been elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (IOM). The institute advises policy makers and professionals on medical and health issues. Antman is one of 65 people chosen this year for outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service. Election to the IOM is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine.

BMC received an American Institute of Architects (AIA) New England Design Award for its Carl J. and Ruth Shapiro Ambulatory Care Center. The Shapiro Center won a Special Citation for Design Excellence at the annual AIA regional conference Oct. 15. The building was designed by Tsoi/Kobus and Associates of Cambridge.

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