If you hear someone tell Marc Boom, "Stop and give me 20," you probably won't see him drop down and do push-ups, but you might see him reach into his wallet.
As a patient-centered physician, Boom, executive vice president of the Methodist Hospital in Houston, has taken a special interest in handwashing. Such a special interest, in fact, that he has challenged hospital employees to follow him and other hospital executives around. If anyone catches him not sanitizing his hands on the way into or out of a patient's room, he'll give them $20, says Ewing Werlein Jr., chairperson of the hospital system's board of directors and a U.S. District Court judge.
As a result of the hand-sanitation initiative—which brought compliance up from the 40% range to more than 90%—hospital-acquiredinfection rates have dropped significantly in most of Methodist's intensive-care units, Werlein says. “What this means is not only have we greatly enhanced the care of patients, but there are a certain number of them that are alive today because of this.”
Whether it's handwashing or other initiatives, Boom, 41, has always set high goals for himself and the academic 910-bed hospital that he has led since 2005, Werlein says. An internist with a specialty in geriatric medicine who also holds an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, Boom not only has pushed for patient-safety initiatives, but also has helped make Methodist a good place to work.
Every few weeks he circulates through different departments at the hospital for what he calls “Bagels and Boom,” where employees can bring up questions and concerns to him directly. If he can't answer a question immediately, he takes notes and responds quickly, Werlein says. Informal programs like this that reach out to employees might be one reason the Methodist Hospital System was ranked No. 9 on Fortune magazine's “Best Companies to Work For” list in January.
Before being named executive vice president of Methodist in 2005, Boom held positions including senior vice president and chief operating officer of the hospital; president and chief executive officer of Methodist Diagnostic Hospital; and president, CEO and medical director of Baylor-Methodist Primary Care Associates, a network of primary-care physicians.
In addition to rising in the quality, mortality and safety rankings among academic medical centers that make up the University HealthSystem Consortium, the Methodist Hospital has managed to increase its nurse-to-patient ratio and still have a waiting list for nurse employment. “In a time of nursing shortages, nurses want to work at Methodist,” Werlein says. “It speaks volumes about what a good place Methodist is and what a good leader Marc is.”
When he was named an Up & Comer in 1999 at age 33, Boom was still the president and CEO of Baylor-Methodist Primary Care Associates. In three years, he helped the network of physicians grow to 10 offices with 32 primary-care physicians and 170 staff members. In his current position, his ability to work closely with physicians has served him well and has enabled the hospital to attract and retain a talented pool of physician department chairs.
In addition to overseeing the complex world of a 5,600-employee hospital with $900 million in annual net revenue, Boom still manages to maintain his own physician practice and see a limited number of patients.
Now that's patient-centered.