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In addition to the clinical responsibilities associated with caring for patients and staying abreast of the latest research during COVID-19, health care providers have not been immune to business-related challenges brought on by the global pandemic. From shifting the way they deliver care, to communicating with patients and families in novel ways, and engaging team members in a time of great uncertainty, physician practices have faced new and changing demands in recent months. Keith Derco, MD, a former West End community pediatrician, current director of physician community relations at CHoR and medical director of the new Virginia Children’s Care Network, saw an opportunity to help.

“Our new clinically integrated network is specifically designed to support the valuable work of pediatric practices in our community. In recent conversations with colleagues in these practices, many shared that they would welcome guidance and resources to help them navigate their business operations amidst the significantly changing COVID-19 environment,” said Derco. “As part of an academic medical center and university system, I knew CHoR was in a unique position to provide this support.”

Peter Buckley, MD, interim CEO for VCU Health System and dean of the VCU School of Medicine, was fervently supportive of Dr. Derco’s mission and connected him with Ed Grier, dean of the VCU School of Business. Together, they matched the community practices’ areas of need – which were identified via collaborative virtual discussions – with the expertise of the School of Business team to develop a lunchtime webinar series. The goal was to provide customizable strategies for practices of all sizes and situations.

“As we were all adapting to the effects of the pandemic, the response of the School of Business community was inspiring. Faculty, staff and some of our external corporate partners were eager to help. As part of the VCU and greater Richmond communities, we were delighted to offer assistance,” said Grier.

About the webinar series

The webinar series included content for physicians and practice team members, and went beyond high-level theory to include quick, practical tips for getting started and growing stronger in the following areas:

Pivoting effectively: Implementing telehealth inside your practice with patients
Presented by: Elizabeth White Baker, PhD, associate professor of information systems, VCU School of Business

Communicating effectively: Using marketing and social media to keep patient families engaged with your practice
Presented by: Katherine Oliver, Cheryl Slokker and Luisa Contaifer, VCU School of Business, communications and marketing team

Managing effectively: Promoting staff engagement during times of crisis
Presented by: Joy Goldman, RN, MS, PCC, CEO and Petra Platzer, PhD, NBC-HWC, PCC, COO of SixSEED Partners

More than 50 computers were logged into each webinar and several providers reported anecdotally that team members gathered to participate in groups.

Liv Schneider, MD, pediatrician with The Pediatric Center, was actively engaged with Dr. Derco in leading these efforts. A community pediatrician herself, Dr. Schneider provided first-hand knowledge of the needs of physicians and practice staff, and she was thrilled with the resulting support offered via the webinar series.

“The expertise of the VCU School of Business – in the areas of technology adoption, social media use and leadership – brought real solutions and new perspectives to local pediatric groups in a difficult time. Together we are stronger and VCU is showing an unprecedented level of commitment to community pediatricians with training that included resources for staff, nurses, managers and pediatricians,” said Dr. Schneider.

CHoR and VCU School of Business plan to seek additional avenues to support pediatric practices as they continue focusing on enriching the health and lives of children in their care.

“As the community’s children’s hospital, we see our community pediatricians as part of our extended family,” said Dr. Buckley. “If the pediatricians in the community are thriving, kids will prosper as well. We are grateful for the opportunity to work alongside them in ensuring this occurs.”

Are you interested in joining a network of health care professionals who aim to improve the health of Virginia’s children?

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