Established in 1934, the Jewish General Hospital was built by Montreal’s Jewish community and stands today as a leading healthcare provider within its region. Since its inception, the hospital has held fast to values of integrity and accountability.

“The hospital has always strived to deliver world-class care and to be a magnet for talent,” says Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg, President and CEO of West-Central Montreal Health. “It has a legacy and heritage of entrepreneurship, which persists to this day. The hospital has always set impossible goals for itself, which have always been met.”

As a magnet hospital and a centre of innovation, the Jewish General Hospital continues its legacy through today’s innovations and modern challenges.

Responding to the changing shape of Quebec healthcare

In early 2015, the National Assembly passed Bill 10, a health care law aimed at transforming the organization and delivery of health care and social services by eliminating regional health authorities (i.e. The Agencies), while unifying individual institutions into new territory-based networks of integrated care. Towards the end of the year, Quebec saw further healthcare legislation with the passage of Bill 20, which aims to increase access to family physicians for Quebec residents and to improve productivity of specialists. The Jewish General Hospital is one of many that are working to streamline and restructure in response to these new laws.

“With the implementation of Bill 10, the hospital has become part of an integrated healthcare and social services university network,” says Rosenberg, noting that the restructuring has presented the hospital with opportunities to work with partners to find ways to improve patient access and quality of care, and to find efficiencies and better control hospital costs.

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It is too soon to really know what the consequences will be for the hospital, but needless to say, anything that promotes better use of resources and improved access will certainly benefit the population,” he adds. “I do not believe that either legislation will negatively impact our plans for future growth. The hospital has been preparing for this for the past two years, and we are ready to play a formative role.”

Corporate responsibility and patient-centric care

Above all, a hospital is judged by the level of care it is able to provide to its patients. The Jewish General Hospital understands this, and works to increase its level of care through higher accountability to the public.

“Corporate responsibility is extremely important to us—we take our stewardship role of the system very seriously,” says Rosenberg. “With the current pace of change, one of our challenges is actually accountability as we redefine roles and responsibilities within the new corporate structures.”

Efficiencies and cost savings are vital in any sector, and healthcare is no different. But at the Jewish General Hospital, a critical part its corporate accountability strategy has been a shift of priorities from its professionals to its patients, ensuring that high quality care comes before all other considerations.  

“We are stewards of the public healthcare system and our primary stakeholders are our patients,” Rosenberg adds. “Accordingly, we are rethinking how we organize by putting the patient at the centre of all our decision-making. As I say to my colleagues, everything should pass the ‘if this were your mother...’ test.”

Building in an era of accelerated change

Technology is always advancing, and the Jewish General Hospital stays on the vanguard as the industry and its capabilities rapidly evolve. “Given our culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, we are always looking for opportunities to partner with industry to prove the benefit of new technologies,” says Rosenberg, explaining that the hospital boasts a rich clinical research program as well as a commitment to acquiring cutting edge equipment like the Da Vinci robotic surgical system to improve the patient experience.

“The hospital's surgical program is largely predicated on minimally invasive techniques, including selective use of the Da Vinci. This has permitted us to drastically reduce length of stay and complications,” says Rosenberg. Another recent acquisition, the first equipment of its kind in North America, utilizes high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) to target and treat prostate cancer. Rosenberg estimates that the machine should reduce surgical prostatectomies by as much as 20 per cent.

The hospital is anticipating a more widespread evolution of the healthcare industry. “I believe we are in an era of accelerated change, in part driven by technology,” says Rosenberg. “Interventions that could previously only have been conducted in a medical centre are moving out to community hospitals, clinics, physician offices, and into the home as well. Moreover, as the standards for credentialing of nurses and other allied healthcare professionals have risen, care previously provided by specialists and general practitioners will be provided by these other professionals.”  

While these advances will improve access and reduce cost for patients, they also require a rethinking of the best way to administer care in a hospital setting. Once again, the solution comes back to the idea of patient-centered treatment.

“Given this rapidly unfolding environment, the hospital will have to become more focused on what its redefined mission will be,” says Rosenberg. “We must move from a volume-based to a value-based organization that is patient-centered, as opposed to being physician-centered. We cannot do everything and we will have to compete on being the best—the highest quality and lowest cost provider. We are more than up to the challenge.”

Meeting current challenges

In the spirit of innovation, the Jewish General Hospital currently has several projects underway to expand and increase its abilities. In January 2016 the hospital plans to launch its new critical care pavilion (Pavilion K), which will henceforth house 60 per cent of hospital activity. “It is a magnificent structure,” says Rosenberg. “This will definitely be a defining moment with respect to the future of the hospital.”

The hospital is in the process of helping to put in place a new management team as part of its integration into Quebec’s new health care and social services university network. Additionally, the hospital team and its new network partners are developing a framework to establish a “continuum of care” for citizens that will focus on preventative care and aftercare for a healthier region, plus a Patient/Client Experience Program for better service overall.

“As our healthcare and social services network takes form, we will play a critical role in establishing trajectories of care that will follow a continuum from the hospital,” says Rosenberg. “We hope to contribute to the creation of a more robust system of home care that will keep patients away from the hospital.”

Making a difference with innovation and entrepreneurship

From government mandates to growing populations, the Jewish General Hospital has plenty of challenges ahead. But with advanced resources and a spirit of progress, the hospital is dedicated to meeting and exceeding those challenges as they come.

“I believe what sets us apart is our culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, our history of caring for all, aspiring to provide the highest quality care, and our dogged persistence and resilience,” says Rosenberg. “The hospital has historically been a survivor—we have always discovered a creative way through the challenges that have been put before us.” 

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