Ethics in the Business of Science and Healthcare

October 24, 2013

"Ethics in the Business of Science and Healthcare" was held September 25th at Duquesne University in the Power Center Ballroom.  Four schools collaborated on the event; the School of Pharmacy, School of Nursing, School of Health Sciences and the School of Business.

University President Charles Dougherty kicked off the morning with a welcome and thoughts about our changing healthcare.  He spoke about the technological advancements and reminded the audience of the Pastoral and Spiritual responsibilities that healthcare professionals have toward the patient, especially during end of life care.

Keynote speaker Paul O'Neill, former U.S. Treasury Secretary and former chairman and CEO of Alcoa, has been spending time in over 80 hospitals, working with the executive teams on the importance of leadership in reducing the one trillion dollars of wasteful spending.  O'Neill's work doesn't stop with the dollars.  He is passionate about patient safety and the value of the workforces in the hospital and healthcare settings.  O'Neill strongly believes that it is system thinking, continuous learning and improvement that drive transformation.  Each organization, through ethical leadership needs to practice "habitual excellence."  One shouldn't expect to go to a hospital and acquire or die from an infection that could have been prevented.  And nurses should be spending time with patients instead of what he notes as "50 percent of their time hunting and fetching."  Three questions need to be answered affirmatively by each employee.  "Am I treated with dignity and respect every day?  Am I given the tools I need to do my job that gives meaning to my life?   Am I recognized by someone who's opinion that I value?"  All of the issues are leadership issues.

Panelist Dean Mary Ellen Glasgow, School of Nursing talked about using the Toyota Way in Healthcare to promote lack of waste, standardization and safety. Supplies are delivered in a manner where a door opens in the front and the supply removed, while stocked from behind.  When medications are being administered there is no talking, or interruption.  Standardizing education and how things are done in the medical setting leads to inter-professional learning and patient safety.

Dean Gregory Frazer, School of Health Sciences, spoke about the rising costs of in home care versus end of life care.  As lifespans increase, Dean Frazer believes that in home care costs could outpace end of life care dollars.

Scott Becker, CEO of Conemaugh Health Systems periodically spends his personal time (an entire/shift per month) acting as a nurse's aide to observe the tasks that can be streamlined to affect better patient care.  He feels that transformation begins at the board level.  Conemaugh Health has collaborated with the dietary, housekeeping and maintenance staff to drive down infection rate, because these three groups have a significant amount of patient contact time. Three hundred fifty hospital staff members are LEAN green belt certified.

Robert Wanovich, V.P. of Market Strategy and Delivery for Highmark, Inc.  talked about healthcare insurance.  He reminded the audience that resources are finite and cost isn't limited to patient only.  Ethical discussion, regarding all healthcare costs will continue.