When you work within a large healthcare system, addressing complex challenges can be an immense undertaking; it’s a lot harder to turn a cruise ship than a sailboat.
Dr. Catherine Rolih is no stranger to this titanic challenge. An endocrinologist and Clinical Physician Executive at Novant Health, Dr. Rolih manages 18 facilities across the not-for-profit integrated healthcare system.
She has seen first-hand how difficult it can be to tackle the complexity of diabetes care. With the sheer size of the system, where do you even start?
Dr. Rolih’s overall goal was patient safety, and to get there, she wanted to create best practices for glycemic care that could be used across the entire hospital system — namely, standardizing the way hypoglycemia identification, management and prevention were handled.
By founding the Diabetes Center of Excellence and Diabetes Best Practice Exchange Team (BPET), establishing cross-functional teams and implementing Glytec’s eGlycemic Management System® (eGMS), Dr. Rolih was able to create a resilient strategy for collaborative, long-term practice change.
This strategy was tested when the COVID-19 pandemic began, but thanks to the groundwork laid by Dr. Rolih, Novant Health was able to respond quickly and effectively to unprecedented challenges.
Novant Health is a not-for-profit, integrated healthcare system that serves patients and communities in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia. Novant is known for its commitment to innovation and a culture of patient safety, especially in diabetes care.
With 18 facilities and 160,000+ patients across the Novant system — some 40,000 of whom have diabetes — responding to the nuances of diabetes care was a particular challenge for Clinical Physician Executive Dr. Catherine Rolih and her team.
Dr. Rolih was able to achieve quality improvement at scale by creating cross-functional teams who shared a common goal of patient safety and deploying Glytec’s eGMS® to help them realize best-in-class clinical results.
Dr. Rolih and her team at Novant have always made patient safety their top priority. Her goals were straightforward: identify and establish glycemic management best practices across the entire system in order to increase time spent in target blood glucose range and reduce readmissions, clinical variation and length of stay.
As anyone in diabetes care can tell you, accomplishing these goals is easier said than done. Resistance to change, clinical inertia and staff turnover make major practice change challenging, even within a single unit. Dr. Rolih wanted to overcome this challenge across 18 facilities serving 40,000+ patients.
Unfazed by the enormity of the task, Dr. Rolih set about promoting collaboration, standardization and innovation in cross-functional teams at all of these facilities.
Dr. Rolih knew that successful practice change begins with people. That’s why from the get-go, she strived to create a culture of patient-centric care. Eventually, Dr. Rolih founded two new committees: the Diabetes Center for Excellence in 2014, and the Diabetes Best Practice Exchange Team in 2016.
Early on, Dr. Rolih engaged key stakeholders and elicited their support for developing a system-wide focus on safety and quality in diabetes care. The multidisciplinary team she put together is composed of experts from across the system, and functions dynamically to meet evolving needs. This means optimizing existing teams, creating new teams when needed, encouraging more collaboration and integration and meeting monthly to discuss how to drive change.
With the right people on board, Dr. Rolih then needed technology that would help her team achieve the clinical outcomes they were after. Dr. Rolih selected Glytec’s eGMS to help standardize best-practice glycemic care, identify and prioritize at-risk patients and collect glucometric data.
Through the systems and practices developed by Dr. Rolih and with the support of Glytec’s technology and clinical experts, Novant Health was able to provide quality care and achieve long-term practice change. The internal diabetes care team was also able to successfully leverage technology, implement telehealth and improve glucose surveillance.
Dr. Rolih and her team have been able to:
“We have seen the importance of having a group of highly passionate individuals who are able to work above and beyond their traditional job descriptions and go from what we were to what we can be.”
Staying Agile During COVID-19
When COVID-19 hit in 2020, Dr. Rolih had a new problem to solve: How do you maintain a focus on quality and safety for diabetes care during a pandemic? And how do you address glycemic management in COVID patients treated with steroids?
With Glytec’s support, Dr. Rolih was able to ensure that teams across facilities were equipped to quickly address glycemic management needs in COVID patients treated with steroids and continue to deliver best-practice glycemic care. In 2020 alone, Novant cared for more than 160,000 hospital admissions, 25% of whom had diabetes. That’s 40,000 patients across different facilities that Dr. Rolih and her team had to manage. Thanks to the work Dr. Rolih had already done building a resilient glycemic management program and equipping providers with best-in-class technology, Novant was able to respond nimbly to the evolving situation.
Dr. Rolih’s initial challenge was monumental, and desired solutions came with obstacles. With the help of Glytec, she was able to successfully instill lasting culture change across teams, units and hospitals. As a result, patients with diabetes now receive higher-quality care at Novant facilities.
Having built a resilient culture of best-in-class glycemic management, Dr. Rolih feels ready to tackle whatever challenges arise next. As her experience during COVID-19 proves, it’s never too early to lay the groundwork for long-term success.