How Edward Hospital plans to increase tech use, patient convenience

Edward Hospital in Naperville has 1,100 physicians, 1,200 nurses, a top-50 ranking as a cardiac hospital and a top-100 ranking as a community hospital.

It also has a new CEO.

Bill Kottmann, 62, of Naperville, will step into the post Friday. He replaces Pam Davis, Edward-Elmhurst Health CEO, who will focus on leading the system that includes Edward and Elmhurst hospitals and Linden Oaks Behavioral Health.

Kottmann spent 10 years in banking before joining Edward Hospital in 1991, eventually taking on dual positions as systemwide vice president of physician and ambulatory network development and president of Edward-Elmhurst's joint venture strategies division. Now Kottmann says he's ready to help the hospital increase preventive health care, expand technology use and improve options for patient convenience.

The Daily Herald sat down with Kottmann to talk about his goals. Here is an edited version of the conversation.

Q. What challenges does the hospital face and how will you overcome them?

A. We have a number of challenges ahead of us with respect to declining reimbursement and changing the way we get paid. We're moving from being paid on volume, with a fee for service, to being paid for value. It's increasing our focus not just on treating people when they're sick and then sending them home, but trying to keep patients healthy from the onset.

We're also reinvigorating our efforts toward preventive health. Particularly with chronically ill patients, research has shown they do much better if you can keep tabs on them and hopefully get them in to see a primary care physician before they have to come back in through the emergency department or for surgery.

Q. What technological changes will patients notice?

A. We could send a paramedic armed with a smartphone or tablet to have a face-to-face interaction with a patient and a physician could be on the other end of the line. There are a lot of new technological advancements that allow us to get vital signs of patients remotely.

We're looking at one that would allow us to check heart tones remotely — it's a portable stethoscope that can send a signal. The physician can be back here with headphones on his smartphone and listening to heart tones of the patient.

Those types of things are making it easier and quicker and more cost-efficient for us to keep tabs on patients and hopefully keep them healthier and keep them out of the hospital.

We're looking at technology to be able to have patients do online scheduling for their appointments and also being able to do video visits. We're piloting this with our employees right now, but pretty soon as a patient you'll be able to use your smartphone and actually have a visit with one of our physicians.

Q. What are the major health needs in the area?

A. One of the big needs is behavioral health services. We continue to address that need by providing more health services through our Linden Oaks Behavioral Health hospital, more comprehensive services with a lot of adolescent programming and working closer with the schools.

And we're looking at things like childhood obesity. In the past, while hospitals were concerned about these things, we really hadn't done much. We think it's our role to do more now, whether it's education, whether it's nutrition services or guidance.

Q. How will the hospital evolve to better meet patient needs?

A. We've been trying to provide better access to patients and the right type of access. We offer walk-in clinics and immediate care clinics for issues that are lower acuity, such as a sore throat, a laceration or a broken bone. That's more appropriate care, it's immediate, you're going to get in there right away and the price point is going to be less than an emergency department.

We're also looking at extending hours of our employed physicians, both primary care and specialists, so patients can get in whether it be before work or after work or on the weekends.

That's one of the big changes that's happening in consumer-driven health. Patients don't want to wait for services.

Q. You helped form the Naperville Development Partnership in 1995. What do you see as the hospital's role in economic development?

A. The fact that we have a high level of clinical excellence here, it's another selling point to businesses. If you look at a large business coming into the area, they're concerned about being able to attract and keep good employees. What do employees want? They want a nice area to live in, they want good schools, they want good health care, they want a safe area. So we can help provide that.

  Bill Kottmann of Naperville, who becomes president and CEO of Edward Hospital on Friday, talks with Marilyn Drendel in pulmonary rehab at the heart hospital. Edward recently was recognized as a top 50 cardiac hospital by Truven Health's 2015 Cardiovascular survey. Bev Horne/
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.