By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
Lakeway Regional Medical Center has never been stronger in the four years since it opened, and much of that is due to the leadership of CEO Philippe Bochaton.
Bochaton believes in getting feedback straight from LRMC patients and their families, and he makes it a habit to spend a small portion of his day visiting patients.
“This morning, I talked with five patients, who were all positive (about their experience at LRMC),” Bochaton said during a recent interview. “We are working really hard to provide a first class experience to our patients.”
LRMC opened April 16, 2012 and is the closest full-service hospital to Four Points located at 100 Medical Parkway in Lakeway. Bochaton took over as CEO in April of 2015 and he is LRMC’s third CEO.
Under Bochaton, LRMC has added twice as many surgeons from 1Q 2015 to 3Q 2015 and has increased the staff significantly. There has been a 70 percent increase in patient admissions, and now LRMC has more consistent patient numbers on a daily basis.
“We are arguably a different hospital today than we were,” Bochaton said. “Our No. 1 challenge is to spread the word about our quality of care, and we are doing this one patient at a time, one doctor at a time, and one community member at a time.”
Today LRMC has approximately 300 physicians including those specialized in neurosurgery, orthopedics, primary care, urology, ENT, emergency medicine, cardiology, general surgery, OB/GYN and neurology.
“We want to be the preferred provider for the community where time is of essence,” Bochaton said.
LRMC is becoming more of a destination hospital for specialties including cardiac and stroke, “where patients are coming to Lakeway from Austin,” he added.
LRMC has been a chest pain center, and most recently in December, became a primary stroke center. Now it is in pursuit of a trauma designation.
LRMC is also launching a center for joint replacement this month – working collaboratively with orthopedic surgeons on its medical staff.
“It’s our No. 1 goal and mission to offer the most advanced, forefront technology and new protocol of care,” Bochaton said.
LRMC has invested more than $3.7 million in new operating room equipment since May 2015 with imaging and robotic navigation.
“These are the types of tools surgeons wouldn’t come without,” Bochaton said.
One example of the latest technology is the ability to do complex brain surgery where the patient is awake called awake craniotomies.
“It is the most advanced protocol with minimum anesthesia and the possibilities to communicate with the patient and test functions while asking the patient questions,” Bochaton said.
Another example of the latest technology is a 3D scanner used in the operating room that has a lower dose of radiation.
As of recently, LRMC has all six operating rooms fully equipped with the new equipment.
LRMC is getting more complex, higher accurity of patient cases than it used to have so that means it is providing a higher level of care, Bochaton said.
“Our case complexity is increasing dramatically. This is due to our complex spine and brain procedures in a large part – but an overall increase in specialty care,” he said.
The hospital went from a 1.1 rating in complex cases in the first quarter of 2015 to a 2.45 rating by the first quarter of 2016.
Treatment times at LRMC beat industry standards in the area of stroke treatment. For example, the “door to needle” time at LRMC is 28 minutes compared to the industry standard of 60 minutes.
“Our STEMI times are also well below average. Speed in essential when it comes to the treatment of heart disease (heart attacks) and stroke,” he said.
“We are running out of space for doctor offices,” Bochaton said. “We have recruited physicians across all specialties – neurosurgery, cardiology, urology, primary care and others. They all need office space near the hospital.”
LRMC has been strengthening its cardiology offerings during the first half of this year.
“(Recently,) we on-boarded two new cardiologists – incredibly highly trained with multiple fellowships. One of them is a female cardiologist with advanced training in electrophysiology – that is new for this region,” Bochaton said.
LRMC will be investing in an electrophysiology clinic later this year.
John Frederick, M.D. of Premier Family Physicians and his care team will offer all forms of family medicine starting this week and will provide comprehensive medical care for medical conditions including high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, allergies and many others at the LRMC campus. Gregory Berkley, M.D., an internist focused on adult medicine, will join Frederick in September.
“We are physician-centric and patient-centric, responding timely to the community,” Bochaton said. “We work collaboratively with our physicians – more so than most hospitals.”
The medical office building just across from LRMC is nearly full.
Bochaton said the hospital is also looking at expansion in the proper time with adding another tower to the hospital.
“We are running out of OR space,” Bochaton said.
LRMS’s 6th floor is shelled space. The original developers were thinking ahead about growth and it can easily be built out for additional patient beds.
“Beyond that, there are plans for a north tower which we may start construction on in 2017,” Bochaton said.
LRMC is creating a nonprofit research foundation that will help to fund partnerships. The new foundation is expected to be finalized within the next two or three months.
The focus will be on providing training opportunities for physicians across the country, as well as funding community needs for example, if a patient needs a complex surgical procedure and does not have adequate insurance.
“We want to be able to provide state-of-the-art education and training,” Bochaton said. “Healthcare technology is changing quickly and we want to remain at the forefront.”
LRMC is an independent hospital, which allows it to be responsive to community needs and ideas.
LRMC refreshed the Women’s Health Center with timely approval by the board, he said. The hospital is developing a Women’s Health Center that will serve women through all phases of their life.
LRMC has invested in the OB program and has a NICU, for example.
“We deliver about a baby day,” Bochaton said. “We want increased recognition as place for parents to be to deliver babies.”
The hospital had billing issues early on but when Bochaton got to the hospital, he put a better system in place with a billing hotline with a live person who addresses issues, mostly from the past. Now it has a better bill coding system.
The hospital’s CFO is personally handling many of these issues from the past and is working close them all out.
Hospital billing is complex everywhere.
“We are working hard to educate our patients and to make sure that everything is easy to understand and transparent,” Bochaton said.
Insurance is a big piece of the billing cycle and LRMC, since it is independent, does not get paid as much as larger healthcare systems because it does not have the negotiating muscle but on the flip side, it can be more flexible and react quicker to patients.
Women’s Advisory Council
The LRMC Women’s Advisory Council is an advocacy group with a mission to educate the community on services, changes, and advancements of the hospital. The council was formed nearly a year ago in August of 2015 to help spread the word that Lake Regional is important to the community. The council holds monthly meetings.
“We are an emergency operations center for the region and we have regular disaster drills,” said Bochaton. The LRMC Women’s Advisory Council is actively involved in this area – organizing community members who could be trained to assist in the event of a disaster.