Keck Medical Center unveils its long-term strategic plan

Published October 12, 2012

The Keck Medical Center of USC has set its vision for the future, emphasizing five critical areas of focus that will serve as the foundation of its long-term strategic plan.

People, growth, service and access, resource management, and quality were identified as key areas of emphasis at a recent strategic planning retreat that brought together more than 50 leaders from across the clinical enterprise, including hospital administrators, clinical department chairs and ambulatory care leaders.

The areas of focus were selected following the results of internal and external stakeholder interviews and an internal survey of more than 4,000 employees to gauge the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges. The survey netted 1,104 responses and more than 400 write-in comments from staff and physicians across the medical center.

“It is going to take hard work and collaboration for us to be recognized among the top academic medical centers in the U.S.,” said Shawn Sheffield, chief strategy and system development officer for the Keck Medical Center of USC, at the Sept. 13 retreat. “We are starting with so much strength and talent, and we must continue to grow. We have to focus on our patients, improve our quality, be more efficient, and we must renew our investment in the people of this organization—the staff and physicians who make us great.”

At the core of the survey results, staff and physicians ranked quality and improvements in patient experience as top priorities for the medical center. They also felt strongly about reinvigorating a sense of pride, empowerment and engagement among the workforce, and the importance of continued investments in infrastructure and clinical priorities.

“Unquestionably our organization has been through significant changes over the last few years, and alignment of the clinical enterprise has been our top priority,” said Scott Evans, chief executive officer of Keck Hospital of USC and USC Norris Cancer Hospital. “Our work in strategic planning brings everyone together to focus on common goals, shared priorities, and prepares us for actionable steps that serve the best interest of our patients.”

At the retreat, medical center leaders discussed preliminary plans for enhancements in the five strategic areas of focus, including growth of clinical volumes, establishing enterprise-wide metrics to promote efficiency and a service-oriented culture, optimizing resources, enhancing staff and physician communication and engagement, standardizing utilization of evidence-based practices, increasing physician outreach, and improving patient flow.

“This is going to be the single most important thing we do as an academic medical center,” said Vaughn Starnes, chair of the Department of Surgery and surgeon-in-chief at the USC hospitals, of the strategic planning process. “The real work begins now. We have set the strategic foundation for our future, and now we must continue to work collaboratively to identify and execute priority goals that will transform our organization into a model for academic medical centers across the globe.”

Design teams around each area of focus have been formed and will meet regularly through December to define and hone the organization’s strategic direction. Medical center leaders hope to finalize the strategic plan by the end of the year.

“The team-based approach to strategic planning has been an exciting way to work across the broader Keck organization,” said Coreen Rodgers, chief operating officer of the Keck School of Medicine of USC, who also participated in last month’s retreat. “I have enjoyed the opportunity to work with many new people in this format, and the ideas exchanged have been really powerful. I think the group is determined to capture the needed improvements we must make internally, as well as chart an ambitious course for the medical center’s future.”