Category Archives: Leadership

How To Respond To 2 Common Patient Fears

While it may not be visible, nervous patients walk into healthcare organizations every day.  Although each patient is unique, most share two common fears. First, they fear that they won’t be listened to.  Second, they fear that their care will be too expensive.  Here are some ideas about how to respond to these two widespread patient fears.   Community Health Doctor
No one will listen to me
There are two popular views of doctors.  Some patients consider doctors as trusted partners in their medical care.  Others feel like the doctors will judge them.  Regardless of a person’s specific beliefs, patients and providers can work collaboratively to ensure that the appointment goes smoothly.
Steps For Patients: Prior to the appointment, write down your concerns.  Practice explaining these concerns in the simplest way possible. When patients complete these steps, they often feel more confident—and prepared—during the appointment.
Steps For Providers: During the appointment, remember that everyone communicates differently. Ask questions and listen to answers. Summarize what the patient said, and repeat it back to them.  When possible, allow the patient to finish answering before asking another question.
I won’t be able to afford it
High medical bills are a barrier to care for many people.  Finances impact each patient differently, and clinics should have a variety of resources to help.
Steps For Patients:  If possible, enroll in health insurance.  Once enrolled, read plan documents carefully.  Learn what your insurance policy includes and excludes.  Note any additional requirements (like prior authorization) to ensure coverage. Often, patients with active health insurance have an easier time establishing care with providers.
If unable to enroll in health insurance, you should begin researching.  Ask your providers if they offer financial assistance programs or discounts for cash payments.  If the clinic does not offer it, consider calling other local healthcare organizations to ask the same question.  Healthcare social workers also may be able to connect you with community resources to further assist you.
Steps For Providers:  Clinics should always be transparent about their financial policies and resources.  Offer copies of these policies to patients.  Train staff to explain the organizational billing system in an understandable manner. Implement tools that estimate the costs of office visits or medical procedures.  When possible, offer alternatives to the recommended treatment plan—particularly when there are concerns about if the patient’s insurance will cover it.

A Quick Guide to Group Health

See all Group Health Openings here!

For the over 60 years, Group Health Cooperative has played an important role in providing healthcare to northwest residents.  Founded in 1945 with the radical idea that healthcare should keep people healthy, the organization has led the way in the ever-changing world of healthcare and insurance.  Although skeptics initially questioned the organization’s unique mission, today’s Group Health continues to accomplish its original goal of providing high-quality, affordable healthcare.

Based in Seattle, Group Health provides care in 20 counties in Washington state and 2 counties in Idaho. Throughout these 22 counties, there are Group Health contracted medical centers, pharmacies, hospitals, and urgent care centers.

There are approximately 630,000 active Group Health members.

Components of Group Health
There are 5 distinct organizations under the Group Health umbrella.
As the original piece of the organization, Group Health Cooperative has provided high-quality affordable healthcare to northwest residents since 1945.  Two-thirds of members seek care at Group-Health owned offices and clinics. Although care is available (with a referral) outside of the Group Health system, most providers refer patients to Group Health specialists.
In 1990, Group Health Options began providing a variety of health insurance options to local employers who wanted more flexibility.  Although each insurance plan varies, members usually have more choices in where to seek care.
Based in Seattle, Washington, Group Health Research Institute runs the organization’s research. Work from the Institute has helped Group Health become a national leader in treatment of certain medical conditions.
Group Health Foundation coordinates larger efforts to improve member and community health.  For example, Group Health collaborated with local public health departments to coordinate a childhood immunization initiative. supports members to develop and test innovative ideas.
Group Health Physicians is a medical professional organization that includes medical providers who work within the Group Health system.

Historical Highlights
1945: Social activists are inspired to found Group Health after hearing from Dr. Michael Shadid who founded the country’s first health cooperative in Oklahoma.
1946: The first formal membership meeting was held.
1947: Group Health opens their first hospital after buying out the Medical Security Clinic of Seattle.
1955: Group Health begins offering free Pap screenings to members.
1984: The New England Journal of Medicine recognizes Group Health for providing equal care for less money.
1991: Group Health opens Teen Pregnancy and Parenting Clinic.
1995: Group Health and Virginia Mason Medical Center partner together to improve care offered to Group Health members.
2016: Group Health members approve Kaiser Permanente’s bid to buy Group Health.  The Office of the Insurance Commissioner is reviewing this request; transition plans remain unclear.

Over 60 years ago, Group Health began challenging conventional ideas about how healthcare is supposed to work. The organization’s five components have helped Group Health become a strong force in healthcare regionally and nationally.  The organization’s longtime focus on preventative care led the way as the rest of the country’s healthcare world struggled to catch up.  It will be interesting to see where the organization goes next.


Crowley, Walt and Staff. “Group Health Cooperative: Part Two-Open for Business.” November 28, 2005. ( retrieved November 13, 2016.
Crowley, Walt and Staff. “Group Health Cooperative: Part Three-Growing Up and Out, 1952-1965.” March 25, 2006. ( retrieved November 13, 2016.
Crowley, Walt and Staff. “Group Health Cooperative: Part Five- Reform and Renewal, 1981-1990.” August 9, 2007. ( retrieved November 13, 2016.
Crowley, Walt and Staff. “Group Health Cooperative: Part Six- Marriages and Divorces, 1991-2000.” August 9, 2007. ( retrieved November 13, 2016.
Crowley, Walt and Staff. “Group Health Cooperative: Part Seven-New Beginnings, Old Challenges, 2001-” August 9, 2007. (  retrieved November 13, 2016.
Group Health. “A Short History of Group Health.” 2016. ( retrieved November 13, 2016.
Group Health. “Group Health Foundation | Childhood Immunization Initiative.” 2016. ( retrieved November 13, 2016.
Group Health. “Group Health Foundation.” 2016. ( retrieved November 13, 2016.
Group Health. “Meet the Birnbaums, Two Group Health Pioneers.” 2016. ( retrieved November 13, 2016.
Group Health. “Overview.” 2016. ( retrieved November 13, 2016.
Wikipedia. “Group Health Cooperative.” September 3, 2016. ( retrieved November 13, 2016.

Listen, then Ask. Communication Tips in Healthcare

By Emily Manahan

When I first started working at the clinic, I spent time chatting with my new coworkers in the break room. During one of these conversations, one of the psychiatrists asked if I had any trouble communicating with the patients. I shrugged my shoulders, “Nope, not really.” Then I finished my sandwich and went back to work.

A week later, one of the nurses complimented me on how I talked with a frustrated patient. She asked me how I became so good at communicating in these situations. What was my secret?
The truth is, I had to take annual communication trainings at my previous job. At the time, I thought nothing of it. We all attended, enjoyed the free food, and returned to work. Each training was self-contained, but we were all expected to integrate the training principles into our communication.

About a year ago, I ran into a former coworker. Within thirty seconds, he laughed as he pointed out the training tips I had just used in conversation. Some of those tips are listed below. Each tip is simple. Implementing the tips is the difficult part. So take the time to try each out. Test what works. Revise as needed. Use what works and build from there.

Say “Hi”

A front desk staff member will have patients come to them. Most other staff members will be visiting patients. In either case, smile and say hello.
Learn their name: Introductions are easy to do. Still many people forget. Knowing the other person’s name puts both people at ease.


The person who started the conversation usually takes responsibility for this. If a patient comes to the desk to check in, they’ll be offering the explanations. If a staff member walks into a patient’s room, they’ll be the ones explaining why they’re visiting.


It is not appropriate to multitask while someone is talking. If a staff needs to finish something before engaging in conversation, acknowledge the person and ask them to wait a moment.
Summarize and reflect. To ensure that the request has been correctly understood, summarize what was said and reflect it back. For example, I could say “So it sounds like you’re hoping to make another appointment for June 26, am I understanding correctly?”


Since emotions run high in healthcare settings, it’s important to learn how to calmly and effectively communicate. These are some tips that work for me. Find what works for you and build from there.

June 3rd Weekly Healthcare News Roundup

OPEN ACT Could Encourage Pharmaceutical Innovation at Reduced R&D Costs

Drs. Klane White and David Fajgenbaum wrote in the opinion section of The Seattle Times that “There are 30 million Americans affected by 7,000 rare diseases, and, of those, only 5 percent have Food and Drug Administration-approved therapies.” The article calls for congress to pass the OPEN ACT, encouraging pharmaceutical companies to study the benefits of modifying existing drugs to be used for rare medical conditions.

Tacoma Hospital Alliance Seeks Additional Funds for Psychiatric Facility

MultiCare Health System and CHI Franciscan Health are planning a new psychiatric hospital in Tacoma. The $41 million project would create a 120-bed hospital in Pierce County, and the Alliance for South Sound Health is seeking funding from the Tacoma City Council and Pierce County to help with construction costs. The hospitals have requested $1.5 million from both municipal governments, and they’ve been pledged an additional $400,000 from the city of Auburn.

American Death Rate Has Increased for the First Time in a Decade

According to preliminary numbers from the National Center for Health Statistics, the death rate in the United States has increased for the first time since 2005. Some causes of death which have increased include Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, suicides, drug overdoses, accidents, and firearm deaths. The rate of death in 2014 was 723.2 deaths per 100,000 people, and it increased to 729.5 in 2015.

Olympic Medical Center Hires New Medical Oncologist

The Olympic Medical Center has found a replacement for their outgoing medical oncologist, Dr. Tom Kummet, MD. Dr. Rachna Anand, DO, who trained in oncology at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia, will take up the mantel. In addition to Dr. Anand, Olympic Medical Center has expanded their medical oncology department by bringing on nurse practitioner Tamara Montgomery, MSN, NPC-C, OCN.

Washington State’s Top Hospital is …


Congratulations to Virginia Mason Medical Center! Leapfrog’s 2015 Top Hospitals report only bestowed one A rating to Washington State, and this is the seventh consecutive time Virginia Mason has received the top grade since Leapfrog launched the program.

Virginia Mason has received numerous other awards and recognition for patient safety and quality of care as well, including Healthgrades “America’s 10 Best Hospitals” and U.S. News & World Report as one of the best hospitals in several areas of care.


Healthcare Innovation Comes From Within

HealthworksCollective Innovation

Too much print about #Healthcare innovation needing to come from within. That’s old news. The hospitals advertising on our eRecruiting websites are seeking #Registered Nurses and masters level healthcare executives with experience at the bedside level (Care and Risk management, Utilization Review) and facility wide (Quality Assurance, Performance Improvement and Safety).

RNs are the backbone and, obviously, their insights are invaluable as the #ACA clamps down on readmissions as well as future quality measures. Directors and Managers with years of experience balancing competing priorities, including the financial realities, bring an equally qualified contribution. The hospitals that successfully combine their expertise can look at both sides of the coin and derive innovative solutions faster, as well as demonstrating the consensus needed for deployment.

Tags: ,

Washington State Consumer Choice Award Winners

Since 1996 the National Research Corporation has selected the most-preferred hospitals in markets across the U.S. based on consumer preference responses. Congratulations to all seven winners, but especially to Sacred Heart Medical Center for sustaining their performance for 10 consecutive years!

Here are all our 2013/2014 Consumer Choice Award Winners:

  • Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, Spokane (10th straight year)
  • Providence St. Peter Hospital, Olympia (7 years)
  • Harrison Medical Center, Bremerton (6 years)
  • Kadlec Regional Medical Center, Kennewick (4 years)
  • Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, Yakima (4 years)
  • St. Joseph Medical Center, Tacoma (2 years)
  • Tacoma General Hospital, Tacoma (1 year)

What’s the relationship between tolerance for mistakes and innovation?

This is a good question from one of my LinkedIn Groups. It’s something I’ve been working on.

My team grows best when each member can try their individual ideas. Some will fall flat but enough work that our group’s productivity increases, as well as morale.

As a ‘senior’ I’m wise enough to know how much I don’t know. As a Manager I’d be foolish to ignore a person’s perspective and stifle their energy and creativity.

The team debriefs the results and we discard or incorporate all or part of the new approach. The conversation itself can generate more creativity. The key is that my words and actions must fully communicate that trying something that doesn’t work is better than not trying at all.

Obviously the daily activities still need to be accomplished. Hospitals need their job advertisements to be accurate. A RN – Med Surg is not the same as a Surgical OR Nurse. But there’s a huge difference between posting a job and advertising an opportunity. And that’s an individual perspective – which means I’d better be listening to individuals’ perspectives.

When this approach is implemented successfully (which I’m still working on) the daily operations are not adversely impacted because people voluntarily contribute their time when it’s their idea.