Cadenza at Symphony – Donna Sroczynski

By | Cadenza | No Comments

Cadenza: A solo passage, often virtuosic, usually near the end of a piece, either written by the composer or improvised by the performer.

Cadenza at Symphony

Every month, Cadenza at Symphony provides our industry leaders in healthcare throughout our network of facilities the opportunity to share their wisdom and knowledge of medicine, medical care, and medical administration with our guests, families, and friends.

This month, please welcome Donna Sroczynski

Donna is the President of Operations at Symphony Post Acute Network. She began her career in 1982 as an RN, working in child and adolescent psychiatry. She transitioned into skilled nursing 11 years later as Director of Nursing for Manor Care. Donna later joined Kindred Healthcare and relocated to North Carolina, where she worked as a nursing home administrator for seven years before returning to her native Chicago. She served as a Director of Operations, and later, as Vice President of Clinical Operations for Kindred, overseeing 83 facilities in eight states. She has a BSN from the Chamberlain School of Nursing and her Masters in Nursing from Duke University. Donna and her husband, a software developer, have been married for nearly 40 years. Together, they have three daughters and five grandchildren.

Donna, during your career in healthcare spanning over 30 years, what within the healthcare industry has undergone the most dramatic change?

That is a hard question because so much has changed.  Regulations, payment models, health care reform – all have changed so dramatically and have altered health care forever.  But I think the changes that have had the most impact on the patient have to do with advancements in medicine – procedures, equipment, skills of physicians and nurses, the application of technology, and the quality research being applied to practice.  We now see patients with knee replacements going home on the same day as surgery.  Patients that once were in the hospital for days on end are now in skilled nursing facilities and going home so much faster to complete their recovery with their loved ones at their side.

What would you say is the most valuable information one should know before choosing a post acute care facility, that they often don’t?

I often see decision makers struggle with what they should expect from a skilled nursing facility.  Your loved one will be spending time in a community health care setting, and will dine, attend activities, and participate in therapy with other patients.  There is more of a community feeling than at the hospital and we encourage patients to spend time with each other.  Staffing ratios are different than at the hospital because patients are at a different stage of recovery.  Sometimes there are adverse events, like a fall or a medical complication – just as is possible at the hospital.  The staff will do all they can to keep you informed and involved in what is happening and what will be coming next.

How can guests of a post acute care facility and their families best advocate for themselves and their loved ones during their stay or while receiving treatment?

Stay involved.  Ask questions.  Challenge care givers to provide explanations when needed.  You are an integral part of the care team.  And your loved one needs you to be involved. Also, even though difficult, participate in advance care planning conversations and the development of advanced directives for your loved one.  It is so important to have those conversations and fully understand what they do or do not want done throughout the course of their illness.

Can you share some ways that make the transitions between the hospital and a post acute care facility, and then from the facility to home run more smoothly?

Good communication is essential.  I strongly recommend touring the facility that you are considering.  Participate in the admission process and help the staff understand the preferences and special needs of the patient.   Don’t be afraid to ask questions. That goes a long way to make the transition smooth and seamless for both patient and family.  And if you have a concern, speak out.  We will do everything in our power to address any concerns that develop along the way.  Health care is complicated, and no provider is perfect.  But I know the Symphony team will do anything they can to resolve any concerns as they arise.

In your view, what does the future of post acute care within Symphony’s network of facilities look like? Is that future close at hand?

The future is very bright indeed.  We have assembled the best in every discipline to shape the care and culture at Symphony Post Acute facilities.  Our relationships and partnerships allow us to offer the best in all services – whether it be pharmacy, diagnostics services, dialysis, rehabilitation, laboratory, or physician coverage.  We are all here for the same reason – to give the best care possible to the patients that have been entrusted to us and give them the best path to home.  We are continually striving to learn and to improve so that we can serve you better.  

Thank you, Donna!

Data science in healthcare demands dual focus, expert says

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Symphony Post Acute Network is seeing success blending analytics for clinical and business operations, a change compared to how healthcare systems have traditionally used analytics.

Most data science in healthcare settings is separated into either clinical or business operations work. These projects aim to either improve the delivery of care or make the organization more efficient.

But that’s not the case at Symphony Post Acute Network, a Chicago-based healthcare provider, where Nathan Taylor, director of data science and analytics, has been working for the past year on data science projects touching both sides of the provider’s operations.

“We tend to be focused on one area and gain expertise in that area, but making that transition between the two is the challenge,” Taylor said.

Healthcare under pressure to improve

There’s never been more pressure for data scientists in healthcare to bridge this divide. More regulations are coming to healthcare that dictate how clinical care should be delivered, which can cause a ripple effect on how the business is managed.

Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor

For example, one rule created by the Affordable Care Act specifies penalties for hospitals through the Medicare program. Reimbursements for care are reduced when patient readmission rates exceed a certain threshold. The goal is to encourage providers to deliver effective, efficient care the first time rather than rushing patients out of the hospital only to see them return later with the same condition.

Reducing readmissions has been a primary target for data science initiatives at most hospitals since this rule went into effect, and Symphony is no different. Taylor is leading an initiative to reduce readmissions using a machine learning platform from DataRobot Inc. to develop a tool that assesses incoming patients and scores them on their readmission risk.

At first, Taylor and his team started developing the tool using R. They developed an algorithm that appeared to work, but translating the work into the health system’s production environment proved challenging. That was one of the main reasons for using the DataRobot tool, which comes with prebuilt APIs for connecting models to production environments.

Applying data science to the problem of readmissions is a good example of how clinical care delivery can affect the business operations of a provider. When the providers’ care is suboptimal, patients suffer, which also hits the health system’s financial results. Taylor said this shows why it’s so important for those doing data science in healthcare to not focus too closely on just a single application.

“Readmissions is a good example of how a clinical measure can impact operations,” he said.

Bridging clinical and business takes care

Still, building that link can be easier to conceptualize than to put into action. Most enterprises hiring data scientists today are looking for hybrids — people who have Ph.D.-level math skills, programming ability and business expertise. In effect, they are looking for data scientists who are paid to be experts.

But Taylor, who said he doesn’t consider himself this kind of unicorn of data science, said the ego that can come along with this kind of expertise can sometimes stand in the way of cross-department data science initiatives.

“I tell people to be humble about what you don’t know,” he said. “If you go into things trying to know everything yourself, it’s not going to go that well.”

Instead, Taylor recommends talking to people from all the departments that will be touched by a data science project or have ownership of a data source. They are the ones who know what they need from a tool and what certain data elements mean. Taylor said he regularly talks to doctors and nurses, as well as accountants when developing a new tool.

The business and clinical operations of healthcare providers may have traditionally been run as separate fiefdoms, but with evolving regulations and best practices in the delivery of care, there’s no reason they have to be separate from the perspective of data science in healthcare.

“Having bridged both of those, it makes the business stronger,” Taylor said.

Author: Ed Burns