Building an army of problem-solvers

I was recently having a conversation with a reporter who asked me about the most important strategic initiatives underway at UMass Memorial. My answer to him was the same it has been for anyone who has raised similar questions: Our number one strategic priority is turning our work force into an army of empowered problem solvers.


Most people are pretty good at identifying problems, but a problem solver doesn’t stop there. They take the key next steps of asking questions to fully understand the root cause of a problem and engaging others in implementing a counter measure to solve it.

Our best leaders empower their people to redesign processes and try new things.  They help their people find the resources needed to implement their ideas and work across departments when cooperation is needed.  This can be challenging in the resource-constrained, silo-oriented environment we work in.  But a true problem solver is a soldier that fights through all of this, and by doing so creates new resources and new partnerships that allow them to take on even bigger problems.

Dr. Tzvi Jonas understands this concept. The hospitalist at our Medical Center was the catalyst for the launch of a program called Simple Scripts that ensures

Tzvi Jonas MD

Tzvi Jonas, MD

home-bound patients leave the hospital with all prescribed medications in hand. Though it sounds simple, there were multiple barriers Dr. Jonas and his team had to work through to solve this problem. The result? A tremendous impact on patient outcomes, patient satisfaction and quality of life.

Dr. Jonas was inspired by a UMass Memorial patient. Because retail pharmacies don’t commonly carry the dose of pain medication she was prescribed, she experienced excruciating pain in the final hours of her life – pain that could have been prevented had the option to fill the prescription before leaving the hospital been available.

The pilot program began in January 2016 on 6 East and the process is simple.  The UMass Memorial Prescription Center Pharmacy is alerted of upcoming discharges home. Pharmacy staff visit patients and enrolls those interested. Prescriptions are sent directly to the pharmacy prior to discharge. The pharmacy immediately begins filling the prSimple_Scripts_Blogescription allowing patients to leave the hospital with their medications in hand.

Simple Scripts has been met with tremendous success. It has reduced primary medication non-adherence on the floor and has improved the overall patient experience. Given these results, expansion of the program has already begun.

Dr. Jonas wrote about the program in the latest issue of Central Massachusetts HEALTH.

Many thank to Dr. Jonas, the nurses on 6 East and the pharmacy for working through all the barriers to solve this problem on behalf of our patients.

Wow! Moments

I wanted to share another Wow! story that made a lasting impact on the family of one of our patients. We received an email praising the effort of Lois Bourget, a caregiver and Emergency Department administrative secretary at the University Campus. She helped a family retrieve a very important item of a loved one who passed away. Here are the contents of that email:


We are fortunate to have caregivers like Lois Bourget on our team. She once again demonstrated, in an extraordinary way, that there is always something more we can do for our patients and their families.

I want to hear your Wow! stories. We have created this email address for you to share these moments. Include the name of the person and unit creating the Wow! moment and as much detail as possible. We will highlight some of these stories in our upcoming blog posts.

Thanks for all your great ideas and for taking great care of our patients and one another,


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