Mission Health’s Unique Immersion Day for Board, Journalists and Policy Makers Provides Necessary Insight for Governance and Policy

Innovative Immersion Day Program Published in the New England Journal of Medicine Offers Leadership to the Health Care Industry

Mission Health’s innovative Immersion Day program creates new paths for key stakeholders to better understand the real challenges and opportunities facing health systems.  It has resulted in improved insights on how to lead, regulate and report on the most complex health care issues facing the nation.  A description of the program entitled, “Immersion Day – Transforming Governance and Policy by Putting on Scrubs,” co-written by Ronald A. Paulus, MD, President and CEO of Mission Health and Dr. Richard W. Bock, MD, Immersion Advisors is published in the March 31, 2016 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). It outlines how Mission’s unique, three-year-old program has strengthened governance and engendered trust in our community, staff and physicians.  The full article is available at http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1600068.

“We realized the obvious when deciding that there was no better way to inform our board members, community and policy makers about the real challenges and opportunities our caregivers and health system face than by simply letting them see for themselves in an unscripted, transparent manner.  Our Immersion Program has been incredibly successful in leading to greater understanding and producing real change and we believe that it has implications nationally,” said Dr. Paulus. “Programs like this continue to provide new opportunities to provide the highest quality care for our patients and the best work environment for our staff.”

“This unprecedented level of access and ability to hear directly from our doctors, nurses and patients is not only eye-opening but also incredibly valuable in enabling our Board to make better, more informed decisions to meet the needs of our communities and caregivers,” said Wyatt S. Stevens, Chair, Mission Health Board of Directors.

“As day turns to night we head to the emergency department where a woman is having difficulty breathing. She deteriorates quickly, no respirations, no pulse. Everyone is doing their jobs, airway established, CPR has begun, and the ER doctor is calmly and confidently giving instructions. Does she have insurance? Can she pay for her treatments? No asks, no one cares, the goal is to save a life, and they succeed. What did I learn and what do I want to share? Western North Carolina is in good hands. Mission provides state-of-the-art care regardless of ability to pay, without passing judgment on the behaviors that brought them in the door, and in spite of the regulatory and compliance burdens place on them by the state and federal government,” said Representative Brian Turner of his Immersion Day experience.

In the program, each participant spends a 9 to 12 hours immersed in the front-line nuances of care delivery – in the operating room, emergency department, staff lounge and at the bedside.  After initially being created to improve its own Board’s understanding of the needs of our patients and caregivers, the program has been expanded to include journalists and legislators who report on, create policy and provide funding for the nearly 900,000 people who Mission serves across western North Carolina.

About the Study

The study, titled, “Immersion Day – Transforming Governance and Policy by Putting on Scrubs” by Ronald A. Paulus, MD and Richard W. Bock, MD reported on the benefits of an immersion day for board members, journalists, legislators and regulators to put on scrubs and spend 9 to 12 hours behind the scenes, immersed in the nuances of care delivery so that they can see first-hand the daily work that occurs in our health care system and understand our operations as deeply and fully as possible.  The program – now in its third year – has improved insights on how to lead, regulate and report on the most complex health care issues facing the nearly 900,000 people who are cared for at Mission Health.