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Hospitals Bet on Neuroscience

   February 04, 2016

"These are scary diseases and frightening situations." Longo says. "When a person is in that situation, it is extremely important that they are confident they are getting the best [care] that exists. For doctors and nurses, they are also facing some very challenging clinical situations, and they need to feel they are in the most supportive environment they could be."

Gary Steinberg, MD, PhD

Planning for the center began five years ago with Kerr, who oversees the inpatient and outpatient side of Stanford's neurology service line, as well as Longo and Gary Steinberg, MD, PhD, neurosurgery chair and founder of the Stanford Stroke Center. "We really got everybody in the room to talk about clinical care, basic science, and research, because we have an advantage of being on the Stanford University campus," Kerr says.

"Neuroscience touches everything, especially as we look to the future of imaging."

When planning started, Kerr said she based neuroscience growth projections at 10%, but the reality is that neuroscience has experienced tremendous growth and Kerr expects appointments to get filled quickly. "I think physicians would say we are at the beginning of the bell curve," says Kerr about neuroscience.

Nurse practitioners take the complexity out of the process for patients, following them from discharge to outpatient. Once patients need outpatient services, NPs coordinate their visit by order tests and imaging in advance. "We've really designed this building around what our patients need," Kerr says.

What they needed, Kerr and other executives found, was assurance that every detail mattered—from flooring to lighting to seating. "As we were designing our space, we had a neuroscience patient advisory council," she says. "We had 12 people on our committee, and they were brutal at times, but they were our subject matter experts."

Kerry says patients showed them how narrow hallways, small exam rooms, and even carpet nap interfered with wheelchairs. Low seating in the waiting room wasn't comfortable for patients who had spinal rods, and dimmers were needed on the lights in infusion rooms for headache patients.

In addition to the more comfortable space that Stanford hopes will improve patients' experience, neurologists and the clinical care staff are also expecting that the space will improve care coordination.

Longo says he is excited to be able to "curbside" with colleagues when one of his patients has a tremor that isn't easily explained over the phone. Details or questions about testing can also be taken care of in a hallway conversation instead of a follow-up appointment that may be cumbersome for patients.

"The physicians providing the care will be in much better sync," Longo says.

Jacqueline Fellows is a contributing writer at HealthLeaders Media.

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