Holland's 'Dashboard' system improves patient's care quality, safety

BY Christopher Hoffman
Special to the Hartford Business Journal

Dr. Stephen Holland consults a patient. He heads the hospital's wound treatment team.
Category: Physician

Dr. Stephen Holland

Employer: Gaylord Specialty Healthcare

Title: Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Stephen Holland's mission is to improve the quality and safety of patient care, and to do that, he said, you need numbers, lots of them, every day.

That's why Holland created "Dashboard" shortly after becoming Gaylord Specialty Care's vice president and chief medical officer. The system tracks care-quality outcomes in 18 areas such as infection rates from catheters and IVs inserted for long-term infusions of medicine.

Those metrics give clinicians and staff a real-time, running tally on what is working, what is not working and what needs improvement, he said. The information is regularly reviewed by various groups within the hospital and available to staff.

"When someone says, 'tell me why you have a quality program,' I just show them the Dashboard," Holland said. "It's to focus us to look at how we are doing in various areas and what areas do we need to put our resources into and improve on."

The system has been a major success, Holland said, leading to changes that have significantly lowered infection rates and improved care quality.

"We've seen steady improvements since we formalized this approach," Holland said. "We're very happy to show excellent trends in most of these areas."

The Dashboard is among the visionary and successful innovations that Holland has introduced during his five years at the hospital, which specializes in rehabilitating patients with serious physical impairments. His efforts have drawn effusive praise from the hospital's administration and staff.

Holland has "shown a laser-like focus on quality" since his arrival, said Gaylord Specialty Healthcare CEO George Kyriacou.

"When you hear people talk about quality in the hospital setting, you generally hear about 'getting the process down,' " Kyriacou said. "But is the process working? Is it achieving outcomes that you are proud of?" Steve is focused on both. What Steve has done is to track, measure change and improve outcomes so that once we have that information we can continue to work towards the next level of improvements."

Susan Hostage, Gaylord's outcomes management and compliance officer, said Holland has a talent not only for big ideas but also for getting staff to buy into them.

"Steve is focused on making staff truly understand what quality care means and the impact it has on our patients and the organization at-large," Hostage said.

Holland, an emergency room doctor by training, came to Gaylord in 2012 from St. Mary's Hospital in Waterbury. He said he left due to concerns over the possible impact on patient care of a proposed merger between St. Mary's and a for-profit hospital, a deal that ultimately didn't happen.

Gaylord's specialization in helping patients recovering from life-altering accidents and illnesses made it less susceptible to the hospital merger mania, a major appeal to Holland.

"I was very glad to be over here with an organization that was not concerned with merging," Holland, 62, said. "I was able to concentrate on work and improving patient care."

Improving patient care was what he set out to do within months of his arrival. In addition to the Dashboard system, Holland also introduced a process called "High Reality Organization." All employees are trained in the process, which involves rigorous assessment and scrutiny of treatment to improve care.

"It's really about how you reduce mistakes," he said, adding that program has been a big success.

As an administrator, Holland is careful not to become isolated. To keep in touch, he heads the hospital's wound treatment team, which puts him in a clinical setting on a regular basis, he said.

"I'm out there every day, maintaining my credibility by continuing to see patients," he said. "It's a part of the job that, on many days, I enjoy the most."

It's not all work and no play for Holland. Another of his innovations grew from one of his off-hours activities: running. After taking part in an obstacle course race, Holland realized that Gaylord's bucolic 400-acre campus would be the perfect setting for a similar competition. He organized the first 5K Gaylord Gauntlet in 2014.

The race has since grown to 1,000 competitors and raised nearly $200,000 for the Gaylord Sports Association, which runs sports programs from archery to rugby for the disabled. A Waterbury native, Holland lives in Watertown with his wife with whom he has four grown children.