BERLIN — Atlantic General Hospital CEO Michael Franklin made his annual presentation to the Mayor and Council as part of a tradition of staying in touch with the various political administrations who help to fund the hospital with annual grants.
The relationship, though, is mutual. AGH is one of the largest employers in the area.
Moreover, the facility fills a critical social role beyond its obvious service as a hospital.
Franklin talked about the many socially conscious and philanthropic events the hospital either sponsors or participates in as well as the AGH employees’ contribution to these events.
The main thrust of the presentation, though, was to highlight how the hospital is working to improve its financial position through targeted investments in efficiency and how those investments pay off or are expected to pay off in the long run.
“We are healthy,” he said. “We continue to have a positive margin.”
One of the efficiency initiatives that has already helped the hospital begin to reduce costs is the ongoing conversion to electronic records.
Over the next few years, Franklin said, AGH will have a fully integrated e-records system so that a patient in the hospital, at one of the satellite clinics or in one of Atlantic General Health System doctors offices will be connected to a central database that will have all their relevant medical and financial information.
“We’re working on hopefully being one of the first hospitals to attest to the success of electronic records in the state,” Franklin said.
Last last year, AGH went live with Allscripts Sunrise Clinical Manager which allows a person’s records to be accessed as they move through their entire hospital stay, from intake to discharge any staff member or physician who needs information on a patient they are trying to help can have it at the touch of a few keys.
As the entire system comes on line, Franklin said the hospital and Atlantic General Health System physicians and other caregivers can use data mining to improve not only critical care but also preventative or wellness-based care.
Franklin gave the example of a 65-year-old female patient who has come in for a mild complaint, such as the flu. Once the system is in place the attending physician might notice that the patient is overdue for, say, a mammogram and can remind the patient to make an appointment when they’re feeling better.
AGH also this year added digital mammography, a less uncomfortable method for giving annual screenings, to their arsenal of preventative care tactics.
Continuing to focus on wellness and preventative care is another way AGH hopes to continue to improve its efficiency.The approach has as much to do with encouraging people to take more preventative measures — which tend to be less invasive and less expensive — both as a way of securing their long term health and reducing both their own and the hospitals medical costs.
Making access to care easier is a big part of this approach and Franklin pointed out that the AGH 30 Minute Promise has been an overwhelming success. The 30 Minute Promise is a program by which the hospital tracks how quickly a person is seen after they are admitted.
As part of that goal, AGH has added wait times to their Website as well as to a phone app. It applies not only to emergency care but also to lab results and other tests so people who have to make appointments, or who need to come in for non-emergency treatment can more easily schedule their day.
Another efficiency method AGH has been employing successfully is the “eICU” and intensive care monitoring service that helps overnight staff have access to experts that would normally be unavailable to them.
ICU doctors and in Christiana, Del. monitor AGH patients remotely overnight saving the hospital from having to staff the ICU with specialists 24 hours a day.
Should a patient need a particular kind of care, the physicians on duty at AGH can be alerted to any ICU-specific concerns they should take into consideration during treatment.