Seamless, breakthrough care: Building a new healthcare vision in the East Metro and beyond

We are evolving to better meet the needs of the patients and communities we serve. Will Nicholson, MD, M Health Fairview’s vice president of medical affairs for several East Metro hospitals, answers questions about the new vision and shares why he’s excited.

In the coming years, M Health Fairview will make a number of investments in the East Metro and transform our care model to better serve our patients and communities. Our goal is to make care easier, more affordable, more accessible, and more equitable for everyone.

We asked M Health Fairview Hospitalist William Nicholson, MD, about the changes, how they will affect patients and employees, and why he’s excited to see our vision for the East Metro come to life. Nicholson serves as vice president of medical affairs and sees patients at M Health Fairview St. John’s Hospital, M Health Fairview St. Joseph’s Campus, and M Health Fairview Woodwinds Hospital.

What are the most important things people should know about the changes ahead for the East Metro?

Above all that our values have not changed. I hope that people – whether they’re our employees or our patients – remember that delivering the safest, most patient-centered care continues to be the driving force behind everything we do. It’s what makes us a great place to be cared for and a great place to work. To continue to succeed at this we must continue to evolve.

Having a patient-centered mission drives us to think differently about how we deliver services each minute a patient is in our care. This is leading us to distribute our resources – like our talent and technology – differently. It is also leading us to work differently as a team. This will mean depending on and partnering with our fellow hospitals and outpatient facilities in new and innovative ways.

No matter how we modify our structures, services, or investments, we need to stay focused on being the safest and best place to give and receive care. We need to keep being a place where people are kind to each other and have fun together. That’s who we are. Our hospitals were born from and have thrived during massive changes because we have positive culture organized around fantastic values. Those are the things that will ensure we continue to succeed.

How will this vision benefit our patients and communities?

Our vision is world-class care for the East Metro. We have built this vision around the evolving needs of our community. The community is changing. We are growing more diverse, we are aging, and delivering great medical care is becoming more complex. Because of this, our care model needs to change. We need more flexibility and we need to spend more time thinking ahead. To succeed at delivering this kind of care we have to make some difficult choices. We have to stop doing some things that worked really well the past – even while we honor, learn from, and celebrate our past accomplishments.

In addition, we know healthcare is too expensive. We all know friends or loved ones who have struggled to afford healthcare. These costs have negative effect on the health of our communities. We must find new ways to provide great care more efficiently or too many patients simply won’t be able to afford it.

What impact will M Health Fairview employees see?

They will see our laser-focus on safe, patient-centered care.

We will build workflows around our patients’ needs. That will mean forming new teams with our outpatient partners that can address a patient’s needs in real time, rather than waiting for the next referral, the next follow up appointment, or the next time they’re sick enough to get admitted to our hospital.

Inpatient teams will work together differently than they have in the past. They will have access to a broader talent pool at the point of care. Instead of detached care discussions and encounters, we’ll have a focused team of people who know how to work with each other to get the best outcome for each patient.

We will also work together as one big M Health Fairview system. We will export knowledge and technology from the University of Minnesota into local communities to improve care and access. At the same time, we will bring the broad talent and experience of the community into the University and create an exchange of ideas that will help all of us grow and learn. We will have a system that can connect every patient in every corner of our state with everything that is possible in medicine. 

What excites you most about this vision?

I’m excited to break down barriers. We have too many silos and structures that were once helpful but now just get in the way of great care. We can get patients what they need sooner while reducing costs and easing the burden on our front-line staff by building a smooth continuum of care between clinics, hospitals, care centers and people’s homes.

I’m excited to help empower our employees. As Fairview President and CEO James Hereford often says, we can’t do everything, so we have to pick. If I have to pick, I’ll pick our teams every single time.

Our teams are what make this organization great. It’s not the equipment or the buildings or the dollars. It’s the people. It’s the talent that every single person brings to work. It’s our ability to join all those talents together and improve. No matter how you name it or where you build it – no machine, no stack of bricks, and no budget item can match that. 

Why is it important to make these changes now, while COVID-19 is still affecting our region?

We all know that COVID-19 has transformed our society. For that reason, we also have to transform – and we need to do it at the same time we battle this pandemic. I know how hard this is, but I’m confident we can get through it and I’m prouder every day to be part of the team that is figuring out how to do it.

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