Randi Redmond Oster
founder and President, Help Me Health
Randi Redmond Oster likes to say that safety is part of her DNA. When she worked at General Electric designing new parts for aircraft engines, she was obsessed with safety – and for good reason. “I used to lose sleep over a millimeter change in a part redesign of an aircraft engine, because I felt I had the weight of peoples’ lives on my shoulders,” she said. Through rigorous training in management and leadership, Oster became confident in her ability to work with teams to build new products and businesses by thinking of the customer first. Having spent almost two decades in the corporate world, she assumed that all organizations designed their processes with the customer in mind and provided training for employees just like GE did.
When Oster took on the role of patient advocate for her teenage son in 2009, she received a rude awakening. Bringing her son to the ER for the first time, Oster instantly knew that something was wrong.
Her son was bleeding and was in terrible pain, but no one came over to ask if he was alright. Once he was admitted, Oster was overwhelmed by the number of machines, tubes, medications, and tests her son was being subjected to, without her understanding why. More disturbingly, the transfer of knowledge and teamwork Randi was used to at GE was missing. Wasn’t her son a critical part of the team? Randi and her son were being left out of conversations about his care. By default – they felt neglected, confused, and worried.
“Those of us who work in the aerospace industry know that it takes well-designed processes to build a safe product,” said Oster. In that hospital, she didn’t see the processes in place needed to manage such a complex system. Doctors were focused on their part of her son’s body. Who was the system engineer looking at him as a whole person? “There would be planes falling out of the sky if we did things like this!” said Oster. And she wasn’t quiet about it.
As a person who loves improving processes, Oster took notes throughout her time with her son in the hospital, which later became a multi-award winning book, Questioning Protocol. Recording her experience was not only therapeutic for Oster, but became a stepping stone for the next phase in her career. As president of Help Me Health, Oster’s mission is to ignite a culture change that makes patient experience part of the hospital’s DNA. By putting the patient perspective at the forefront of every healthcare employees mind, employees will be able to consistently know what they can do to meet patient’s expectations. Implementation requires hospital leaders to look beyond cost cutting and increasing volume to meet financial targets. These tactics increase worker burnout. In healthcare, just like flying a plane, we need our front line at peak performance. Oster is grateful for her years of executive leadership training in GE and her team is transferring industry best practices to health care. Help Me Health’s proven methodology will improve healthcare’s bottom line. But, to Oster even more important it will increase the engagement of healthcare workers and most importantly improve the patient experience.