Serving western South Dakota, Regional Health is a healthcare organization committed to providing the highest quality care to its patients.
Serving over 350,000 people across a six-hour expanse of South Dakota―west of the Missouri River―Regional Health is not only the largest healthcare organization in the region, but also the largest employer.
Representing 16 percent of the economy in western South Dakota, the organization understands its significant responsibility goes beyond delivering healthcare.
“Our overall vision is to provide the best healthcare in the nation,” said Brent Phillips, President and CEO of Regional Health, which is headquartered in Rapid City near the renowned Black Hills of South Dakota. “But our responsibility to the communities we serve is far reaching. We want to help make a real difference in the quality of their lives.”
With a stated purpose to help patients and communities live well, Regional Health has the unique opportunity to bring together a diverse cross section of people and organizations to lead collective impact-based efforts to improve population health.
“Many people in the communities we serve face significant challenges—from poverty and homelessness to food insecurity and racial divides,” he said. “It is meaningful to help bring everyone together, and collaborate to find solutions that lead the community to a better future. This is the true meaning of community.”
This work is part of Regional Health’s bold vision to be the best healthcare organization in America.
Heart and Soul of the Community
“At Regional Health, we are here to care for one another: this is our life’s work. Healthcare is the heart and soul of the community.” Phillips said. “While we are striving to provide safe and high quality care to our patients, I believe we are also called to work toward eliminating racial, economic, and cultural disparities in our communities.”
This commitment is evident in Regional Health’s intensive involvement in Rapid City Collective Impact, partnering with the mayor and city leaders, business community, churches, and not-for-profits to improve the health and well-being of Dakotans.
“Our connection to the community takes us well beyond the walls of our hospitals and clinics,” said Phillips. “We know a strong healthcare system is necessary for helping our patients and communities live well, and it’s rewarding to see how we’re improving people’s lives. We’ll always focus on ensuring that our entire continuum of care is available to all patients.”
An example of this effort is an early community collaboration to combat substance abuse— specifically opioid and prescription drug abuse—whereby a Regional Health Board member and local anesthesiologist Dr. Steve Frost and his partners and care team are leading the healthcare organization efforts to address this significant social problem.
Recently members of the Rapid City Police Department, Pennington County sheriff officers, and Regional Health nurses attended national meetings to gain information about prevention and intervention strategies.
One of the reasons for Regional Health’s successful partnership with the community is the leadership of Phillips. With a passion for excellence and the ability to nurture accountable leaders, Phillips spent over 25 years in leadership roles at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, as well as Aurora Health Care in Wisconsin, and Sentara Healthcare in Norfolk, Virginia.
“He provides great leadership and imagination as well as direction of where Regional Health will go next,” shared Ron Amodeo, Chief Innovation and Growth Officer at Regional Health. “He’s very visible within our communities and the organization, and he listens and speaks from the heart. It’s common for him to spend time talking with hospital and clinic caregivers, as well as patients and their families.”
His visibility gives Philips the opportunity to have a finger on the pulse of the entire system. Phillips shared that Regional Health is “relentlessly updating” its clinical and administrative practices and technology to be able to provide the highest quality care and to serve the region to the best of its ability.
“It’s the highlight of my day to hear how we are doing. The practice of medicine today is a team sport, so anyone who can collaborate and work together should,” said Phillips. “That’s why we’re constantly seeking out and implementing best-practice medicine all around the country for the benefit of our patients.”
This also means the healthcare organization staff―all of whom are called “caregivers” at Regional Health, regardless of their roles―work with a common goal to deliver excellent care and service. Phillips revealed Regional Health is “creating a culture of caregivers and physician leaders with personal accountability to transform care.”
Phillip’s philosophy is that every caregiver is a “CEO of service,” and believes they can make a difference every day. He feels each and every member of Regional Health, whether they deliver direct patient care or serve in a support role, can find daily opportunities to demonstrate leadership and perform random acts of kindness.
Given this, Regional Health and its leadership team are leveraging its culture and the strengths of its team to redefine expectations and set substantial goals, and they are seeing significant results. Patient satisfaction scores increased by 34 percentile points in 2016 and caregiver satisfaction increased by 20 percentile points in the last 18 months.
Another example of Regional Health’s work to transform care is a notable improvement made in reducing its mortality rate of sepsis.
Where sepsis has a nationwide mortality rate of 40 percent, and where a one-hour delay in treatment increases mortality by five percent, a group of physicians and caregivers at Regional Health worked together to develop a new protocol with lifesaving results.
This new protocol has lowered Regional Health’s sepsis mortality rate to 11 percent—among the best in the country; the protocol has even been shared with other healthcare systems.
Home+ and Beyond
Regional Health’s Home+ business line, which launched in November, takes a number of individual consumer-facing services like home health, medical equipment, and specialty pharmacy services and links them all together in one easy-to-understand, coordinated, patient-centered service.
In the case of a patient who will be discharged and in need of additional care or treatment at home, instead of having to coordinate with multiple departments, the discharged patient or referring provider can make one phone call to coordinate the necessary post-inpatient care needs.
“It prevents our patients from having to make a long drive to a traditional healthcare facility for a checkup or to receive healthcare information and advice,” shared Phillips.
The use of digital health in the treatment of chronic illnesses will be particularly important for Regional Health, which serves some of the poorest counties in the U.S. Phillips noted that the organization spends significant time and resources on researching better treatment options and care for those suffering from chronic illnesses.
It’s an exciting time at Regional Health. Phillips is focused on building the best healthcare organization in America through continued investment in modernizing healing environments, new technology, and bringing additional medical and surgical specialists to make care more convenient and accessible for patients.
“Physician leadership and collaboration is critical to improving health throughout our communities,” said Phillips. “We have many emerging physician leaders with real passion for clinical and service excellence, and I am excited about our collective future.”
Regional Health is reinvesting in its communities, committing more than $400 million to new construction and the remodeling of its clinics and hospitals, as well as investing $80 million to incorporate a unified, system-wide electronic health record to launch in 2017.
“We want to be here for our communities for generations to come,” shared Phillips. “We will continue to strive for improvement in everything we do and reinvest in our healing environments, operations, and caregivers to advance care for our patients.”
There is no question that Regional Health is doing great things to provide the highest quality compassionate care for its patients to improve the health of the community. Phillips shared a short anecdote that genuinely captured the heart and culture of the organization and illustrates how he believes each Regional Health caregiver operates as a “CEO of service.”
“A rancher was flown emergently to our Rapid City hospital from central Wyoming,” Phillips said. “After he was treated successfully, he shared with our caregiver that he was alone and didn’t have a way back home because his truck was still in Wyoming.
“Without hesitating, our nurse asked for the directions to his home, and she and her son drove eight hours to retrieve his truck. Our patient, the stoic rancher, was in tears from this selfless act of kindness.
“This story illustrates the quality and leadership of our caregivers and the power of compassionate care,” he said. “Providing quality care to our community, served with kindness and compassion, is at the heart of everything we do at Regional Health, and I am proud to be a part of it.”
Regional Health is an integrated healthcare system with the purpose of helping patients and communities live well. The organization, with headquarters in Rapid City, South Dakota, provides community-based healthcare in more than 20 communities in two states and 32 specialty areas of medicine.
As the largest private employer in western South Dakota, Regional Health is comprised of five hospitals and 24 clinic locations and employs nearly 5,000 physicians and caregivers. Regional Health is committed to the future of medicine, with medical training partnerships, a medical residency program, and more than 130 active research studies.