Cleveland Clinic’s new CEO Tom Mihaljevic aims to make the system ‘the safest place in healthcare, anywhere’

In his first State of the Clinic address as Cleveland Clinic president and CEO, Tom Mihaljevic, M.D., laid out his vision for the system. (Cleveland Clinic)

In his first “State of the Clinic” address, Cleveland Clinic President and CEO Tom Mihaljevic, M.D., highlighted the system’s 2017 successes and revealed new initiatives for 2018 to improve patient safety and reduce caregiver burnout.

Mihaljevic, who took over the top role at the world-renowned clinic on Jan. 1 following the retirement of Toby Cosgrove, M.D., had nothing but praise for his predecessor. Under Cosgrove’s leadership, he said the Cleveland Clinic saw increases in revenue, patient volume, research funding and community benefit. “He leaves us well-positioned for future growth,” Mihaljevic told employees Wednesday during the presentation.

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The nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center ended 2017 financially strong, he said, noting operating revenue increased 5% to $8.4 billion and net operating income reached $328 million. Mihaljevic said research funding rose 4.6% to $272 million, including a 5.9% increase in National Institutes of Health funding to $108 million.

The number of patient visits also increased last year 7% to 7.6 million. One reason for the bump is improved access to care, Mihaljevic said, thanks to new urgent and Express Care centers (276,000 patient visits), virtual visits (25,500), shared medical appointments (26,000) and same-day appointments (1.35 million).

In 2016, he said Cleveland Clinic provided $809 million dollars in community benefit—a 17% increase over the year before, representing more than 10% of the health system’s operating expenses. The system committed almost $400 million of its community benefits to subsidize care for patients in need, while also supporting research and education, community outreach and neighborhood education programs.

While Cleveland Clinic reduced readmissions, improved care coordination and increased hand-washing among caregivers in 2017, Mihaljevic told employees that they need to take patient safety initiatives further. In order to become an ultra-high reliability organization, Mihaljevic said the Cleveland Clinic would set bold goals this year.

“Hospital-acquired infections and serious safety events should never happen—we will bring those to zero,” he said. “And we will become the safest place in healthcare, anywhere.”

He also laid out plans to help reduce caregiver burnout in response to a recent survey within the health system that found more than one in three physicians met the criteria for “burnout,” including emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and personal accomplishment.

“We are here for patients first,” Mihaljevic said. “But we can’t succeed unless we take care of ourselves. As CEO, I see my job as taking care of the people who take care of the patients … Our caregivers provide outstanding care under demanding conditions. There is a potential for stress and burnout. We can’t let this happen.”

So the organization has established a new Office of Caregiver Experience, which will reach out to every Cleveland Clinic institute, hospital and location, working with caregivers to identify opportunities for improvement, such as wellness, burnout and career development. Mihaljevic said the office will focus on making Cleveland Clinic the best place to work “for everyone—regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, socioeconomic status, or position in the organization.”

Mihaljevic's entire presentation can be viewed in the video below: