Since 1991, the University of Southern California’s Keck Medicine has served as one of only two university-based medical systems in the Los Angeles area. Keck’s footprint includes more than eighty outpatient locations across multiple counties, a community bolstered by the health center’s intensive research, and cutting-edge facilities.
That research includes the largest-ever study of tobacco content on social media and its links to tobacco use. The Keck School of Medicine led a global meta-analysis of twenty-nine different studies of 139,624 participants. The results of the study, published in JAMA Pediatrics in 2022, examined the connection between social media consumption and tobacco use.
“We casted a wide net across the tobacco and social media literature and synthesized everything into a single association summarizing the relationship between social media exposure and tobacco use,” first author Scott Donaldson and senior research associate in the Keck School of Medicine’s Department of Population and Public Health Sciences said in a statement. “What we found is that these associations are robust and have public health implications at the population level.”
In comparison with those who did not report exposure to tobacco content on social media, those who did were more than twice as likely to use tobacco in their lifetime, to report having used tobacco in the past thirty days, or to be more susceptible to future tobacco use if they had never used it previously.
In addition to the groundbreaking research at Keck, the medical system also continues to expand its own physical footprint. In July of 2022, Keck Medicine welcomed Methodist Hospital of Southern California into its ranks.
Now known as USC Arcadia Hospital, the acquisition will include new investments in equipment, infrastructure, and services. Those investments also will apply to personnel development like academic and training opportunities for USC residents and fellows.
“The partnership brings our community expanded access to a full range of physician specialties, technology, and clinical services that will benefit our patients, employees, and physicians,” president and chief executive of USC Arcadia Hospital Dan Ausman said in a press release.
The team behind the scenes at Keck’s huge strides includes Senior Information Technology Director of Administrative and Revenue Cycle Applications Rhona Fernandez, who has been with the health system for eight years. Fernandez’s scope includes developing and implementing applications around Keck’s relatively young health system, though it has grown significantly in a short period of time.
Over the past eight years, Fernandez’s purview has widened as she’s helped with the integration of robotics process automation tools. Additionally, the director continues to look for ways to streamline enterprise processes and functions, including collaborating with Cerner and Deloitte.
Her team also has partnered with a vendor to help consolidate billing statements previously arriving as two separate bills, a routine and well-known headache for patients trying to understand the often-complex world of medical billing. It’s a move to improve the patient experience and provide more transparency and fluidity for the health system’s patients.
That focus on patient experience is a passion point for Fernandez, who wants Keck to be known as a patient-first organization. Her team regularly seeks out feedback and experiences from Keck’s patients to better understand the hospital system’s patient community and concerns.
On the tech side, Keck is wary of the number of start-ups trying to make noise in the healthcare industry. The director says many companies are flocking to the space, and it makes cultivating relationships with stable organizations truly working to solve problems in healthcare a priority.
Fortunately, Fernandez’s previous experience in a host of other healthcare facilities, as well as extensive experience outside the space, offers the director an insider’s view with an outsider’s fresh approach to innovative thinking. She may just be one part of Keck’s larger success, but her tenure at the organization is indicative of a health system that puts patient experience on the same level as its own innovation.
Silverline proudly supports Rhona’s feature as an American Healthcare Leader. Silverline partners with Keck Medicine on the development of its Patient Access and Engagement platform, leveraging Salesforce technologies to create a foundation for future growth. Silverline guides healthcare organizations through every phase of their Salesforce journey.