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State of the Cleveland Clinic: CEO calls for greater safety transparency industry-wide

‘Becoming the safest place for healthcare is a journey that never ends. It is not easy.’

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Clinic is “healthy and thriving.”

That was one of the messages from Cleveland Clinic CEO and President Tom Mihaljevic, M.D., during his annual State of the Clinic speech Wednesday morning.

One of his primary focuses was on safety.

“Becoming the safest place for healthcare is a journey that never ends. It is not easy. Due to your hard work, I can stand before you and proudly say that Cleveland Clinic is a safer place today than a year ago.”

Among their improvements, the Clinic said serious safety events during surgery decreased by 46 percent. In addition, between Jan. 2017 and Aug. 2019, the Clinic reduced central-line infections by 23 percent, sepsis mortality by 12 percent and patient falls with injuries by 11 percent.

“Dr. Mihaljevic attributed the improvements to safety checklists performed before every procedure, daily huddles that address safety issues immediately and a system-wide focus that empowers every caregiver to speak up when safety issues arise,” Clinic officials said.

Dr. Mihaljevic used his conversation of safety as a way to suggest the health industry should move to be more transparent.

“We are one of the few health systems to publicly report serious safety events,” Dr. Mihaljevic said. “I call on every healthcare organization to do the same, and for every rating organization to make it a requirement. We owe this to the patients and families who trust us with their care.”

We streamed the entire State of the Clinic address, which you can watch in full below:

Among the other State of the Clinic highlights:

Last year, Cleveland Clinic’s operating revenue increased to $10.6 billion (an 18 percent increase), due to a record 2.4 million patients (a 20 percent increase) who accounted for 9.8 million visits (16 percent increase).

To continue the positive momentum, Cleveland Clinic’s strategic plan will focus on five goals: 

  1. Serving as lifelong partners to patients
  2. Engaging caregivers as members of teams
  3. Embracing digital tools to enhance the patient and caregiver experience
  4. Optimizing resources as stewards of the organization 
  5. Doubling the number of patients served

The health system’s priorities will continue to be organized around four key areas:

Care for Patients, through improved safety and quality, better access, and continued investment in innovation, research and education, including tuition-free admission to the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine.

Care for Caregivers, through the Office of Caregiver Experience, improvements to the electronic medical record, an increased minimum wage of $15 per hour, and fully paid maternity and parental leave for eligible caregivers.

Care for the Organization, through expanded access to more patients around the world and as a leader in digital technology and virtual health.

Care for the Community, through initiatives to address public health challenges, including vaping, opioid addiction and infant mortality; an ongoing pledge as Ohio’s largest employer to hire job seekers from surrounding neighborhoods; and a community service time off program to encourage caregivers to volunteer. In 2019, Cleveland Clinic’s community benefit – which guarantees care for patients, regardless of their ability to pay – reached $1 billion.

The Cleveland Clinic will celebrate its centennial in 2021.

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