As an undergraduate, Mary J. Hall earned a degree in nursing and began working as a critical care nurse. Nearly 20 years later, she returned to Anderson University to earn her dual MSN-MBA degree, graduating in 2008.
“That was an invaluable experience to getting me to where I am today,” said Mary.
She means that she is serving as the director of clinical excellence at Community Physicians of Indiana. With a recent promotion, she will serve over 500 doctors. Her primary task is to work with primary care physicians on the quality of care—areas such as the prevention of chronic disease, clinical pathways and medical records.
Different criteria are scored based on a patient’s needs. For example, a diabetic patient’s criteria of care include an annual eye exam, LDL check, monitoring hemoglobin, measuring blood pressure and measuring weight. If any of these criteria are unmet, it could lower the patient care score—and each physician is given a score based off of overall performance.
According to Mary, the purpose of measuring quality of care, however, is singular: to improve the patients’ lives.
Some of their quality of care programs are mammogram screening and colorectal screening. Recently, one of their patients was a woman who was overdue on her mammogram and because of this program, they were able to contact her and ask her to schedule.
“It turns out she had breast cancer, but we saved her life because we caught it early,” said Mary. “That’s the sort of thing we do.”
One of Mary’s proudest professional accomplishments is the Nurse Care Management Program. This program allows for a full-time nurse to help patients with chronic diseases meet personal management goals.
For example, if a diabetic man has a goal of losing 15 pounds and taking regular medicine, he may need some additional help to reach those goals. “You really get nowhere with goals like that,” said Mary. “If you could reach them, if you could lose 15 pounds, wouldn’t you have already done this?”
The care management nurse works with achieving these goals, looking at big-picture questions, like where the patients want to be in the future. According to Mary, the nurse essentially coaches the patients, giving them the tools—which she calls their armor—they need for better health.
“We have seen amazing changes in patients’ lives,” said Mary. “We have seen patients come off of insulin or no longer need other medications. We have seen kids control their asthma. We have seen patient lose 10, 15, maybe even 20 pounds.”
To continue improving their patients’ care, Mary does a lot of reading and interacting within her collaborative to share programs—what works and what doesn’t work.
“There are a lot of great things that can be done,” said Mary.