For this month’s guest Q&A, we had the privilege of catching up with Tomi Ryba, president and CEO of El Camino Hospital, where the Fogarty Institute is located. Ms. Ryba has been a long-time proponent and supporter of the Fogarty Institute and strong advocate of improving patient care.
Ms. Ryba has extensive experience in hospital administration: Prior to joining El Camino Hospital, she served as president of United Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, and senior vice president of the hospital’s parent organization Allina Hospitals & Clinics. Earlier in her career, Ms. Ryba served as chief operating officer at University of California, San Francisco Medical Center.
Q. What are some of the accomplishments you are most proud of at the hospital?
A. El Camino Hospital was recently recognized as one of the top 100 hospitals in the nation, out of nearly 3,000, by the prestigious Truven Health Analytics, which identifies the best hospitals in the nation annually.
This was a strong testament and acknowledgement of our focus on quality, which includes continually lowering mortality and complication rates, and providing the best outcome for our patients. The hospital was also recognized as one of 17 Everest Award winners, which honors hospitals that have achieved both the highest quality current performance and the fastest long-term improvement over five years.
Over the years, we have invested in a strong infrastructure to support our disciplined approach to quality – it has been very gratifying to see that it is yielding such good results for the patients we serve.
Q. What are you seeing as the most critical health issue and as the most critical unmet healthcare need?
A. This really depends on the health segment, but at El Camino Hospital we are seeing a substantial need for behavioral health, a disease and a disorder of the brain that affects people’s behavior and emotional well-being. This is an area where it is critical to get the right care in the time of need. Currently, we see limited access to services, a pervasive stigma attached to the disease and challenges in holding open conversations.
During discussions with local school districts and businesses, mental health has been identified as one of the top concerns. It manifests itself in so many ways: stress and depression in the workforce; thought disorder among all school-aged children; teens at risk of suicide; mothers battling with post-partum depression; addiction and older adults struggling with acute depression. Behavioral health is impacting everyone from elementary school-aged children to seniors.
One of the challenges is that families or teachers often don’t recognize the symptoms and if they do, they don’t know how to best get help. While other hospitals are closing their programs, we are raising awareness, expanding our services and creating strong community partnerships to advance our efforts.
Q. What are some of the biggest challenges and opportunities that hospitals are facing today?
A. We view the aggregation and consolidation of hospitals as a critical component to the success of hospitals and patient care.
Rather than focusing on the value proposition of a potential consolidation, hospitals, payers and physicians need to be aligned on the goal to lower healthcare costs and improve the lives of those we serve.
If managed appropriately, a strong group of like-minded physicians and other health leaders could bring healthcare to a whole new level by focusing on care integration and coordination, through partners.
Q. What are the opportunities you see for El Camino Hospital moving forward?
A. We are focused on choosing effective partners; payers, employers and physicians who are willing to invest in the right approach and model of care to support the community and employers in Silicon Valley.
We are strong believers that we cannot do it alone and need strong, value-based partners to offer integrated, high-quality services. We are truly fortunate to be based in Silicon Valley where we have access to an incredible network and broad range of potential partners, as well as dedicated community members interested in advancing healthcare.
Q. What is your view on medical device innovation and how is it / will it help the hospital?
A. To us, device innovation is focusing on the discovery of a health challenge and inventing a solution that improves quality outcome and lowers costs.
There are a number of different devices that have been used at the hospital, including those that address heart care, premature infant delivery and women’s health. We have hosted several clinical trials to give medtech entrepreneurs an opportunity to work hand-in-hand with our physicians, techs and nurses to receive interactive feedback through the design phases.
Q. What are the advantages and what do you like best about having the Fogarty Institute on campus?
A. We are one of the few hospitals in the country to have the advantage of hosting a medtech incubator right here on our campus. This is an opportunity for medtech startups to be involved in identifying and solving real problems, while having access to world-class nurses, technicians and physicians who work on healthcare issues on a daily basis and can provide an instantaneous response on what works and what doesn’t. This creates an unparalleled synergy that will ultimately create a more effective device.
Consider us a lab, where the solutions can be tested, obtain FDA approval and then often put to good use across the globe.