Dr. Katherine DeRuggiero is the Vice President of Patient Services at Johns Hopkins Medicine International, the newest of many roles in a life dedicated to healthcare.
The 32-year veteran nurse collaborates across Johns Hopkins Medicine International and Johns Hopkins Medicine and leads the development of the model and resources needed to deliver their promise of medicine to the diverse patient populations in the United States and abroad.
This model, as Johns Hopkins Medicine states, considers the entire patient journey and ensures holistic, measurable results that last well beyond the immediate visit
Dr. DeRuggiero has an extensive background in directing emergency medicine, critical care transport nursing and disaster team operations.
- Began as a staff nurse at the now Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in 1982.
- In 2005, she moved to the East Baltimore campus to become the assistant director of nursing for the Department of Emergency Medicine.
- Interim director of nursing in 2007.
- In 2008, she was named the director of nursing for the Department of Emergency Medicine and Johns Hopkins Lifeline.
The nurse has been actively involved in:
- Patient satisfaction
- Risk management
- Quality improvement
She also holds multiple publications derived from the work she has done to improve the patient experience and quality of care.
On top of all, she obtained a doctorate in nursing practice, with an emphasis on executive leadership, and a master’s degree in nursing, with an emphasis on nursing administration, both from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, United States.
Dr. Katherine DeRuggiero
Last week, I interviewed Dr. Katherine DeRuggiero to get more insights about her role in Johns Hopkins Medicine International, the hospital’s leadership in healthcare, what is academic medicine, among other topics.
What is your job at Johns Hopkins Medicine International?
As vice president of patient services for Johns Hopkins Medicine International, I collaborate across Johns Hopkins Medicine to ensure diverse patient populations from the United States and abroad receive quality care before, during and after their medical visit.
There is no doubt that Johns Hopkins Medicine is a reference when it comes to healthcare. It was ranked as the #1 hospital in the U.S. for over two decades and right now it is at the 3rd spot. What makes JH different from other top ranking hospitals around the world?
Unlike many other top-ranking hospitals, Johns Hopkins is an academic medical system. We combine leading-edge clinical care with innovative medical research and education, so discoveries can benefit individuals as quickly and effectively as possible.
For the past 129 years, scientists and clinicians at Johns Hopkins have raised the standard of care in neuroscience and neurosurgery, cancer treatment, immunotherapy, diagnostics, minimally invasive surgeries, organ transplantation and precision medicine. Our care leverages the latest research and technological and pharmacological advancements to achieve the best outcomes for each patient.
More specifically, Johns Hopkins uses a multidisciplinary approach in which experts from a variety of disciplines collaborate to develop an optimal care plan to treat the whole patient, not just the disease.
What has been the role of academic medicine in pivoting the excellence of JH?
Johns Hopkins’ mission of clinical care, education, and research demonstrate the promise of academic medicine, which:
- Puts the individual at the center – Our physicians, nurses and other caregivers have a wealth of knowledge, a depth of expertise and other experts’ support through teamwork. They coordinate and deliver the best care at the right time, in the right setting, in a way guided by individual needs and values.
- Educates the next generation – Not only are our faculty members top minds in science and medicine, they also share their knowledge, skills and ethical standards to train tomorrow’s health care experts.
- Pushes the boundaries of discovery – Our clinicians and faculty members conduct innovative research, improve diagnostics, make technological breakthroughs, and advance patient safety and quality to benefit individuals directly.
- Builds bridges with global partners – We have decades of experience not just in providing culturally competent care for international patients, but also in collaborating with affiliates worldwide to advance health care in their communities so more people can stay well and receive care close to home when they need it.
On January 13, 2016, you were named Vice President of Patient Services for Johns Hopkins Medicine International. Describe one of your best experiences so far.
Last spring we had the pleasure of hosting a “Friends of Johns Hopkins” event in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, with Dr. Ali Bydon and Dr. Anthony Kalloo. At the reception, we met past patients, physicians and leaders in health care who welcomed us with opened arms. We felt such warmth from the Dominican people, and the interactions between physicians were fantastic.
The networking provided a space for creating relationships, and it all started with our commitment to sharing the latest in health information with colleagues from the Dominican Republic. This has been one of the best experiences I’ve had since becoming vice president of Patient Services for Johns Hopkins Medicine International.
- Related article: John Hopkins Medicine: Committed to Academics and Innovation
Thank you Dr. DeRuggiero for such words. What was your goal by hosting such an event abroad?
At Johns Hopkins Medicine, our mission is to improve the health of the community and the world by setting the standard of excellence in medical education, research, and clinical care.
We believe it is critical to ensure people everywhere have trusted information about the latest advances in medicine so they can make educated decisions about their health and the health of their loved ones.
Our event in the Dominican Republic was about knowledge sharing to help Dominicans stay healthy and have access to the best medical care when they need it.
How many international patients do Johns Hopkins treat per year and what do you think has been the key motivators for those medical travelers?
Each year, Johns Hopkins Medicine treats thousands of international patients, who come from all over the world for clinical excellence and innovation in a variety of specialties, including cancer, head and neck surgeries, heart and vascular, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, transplantation, and urology. Typically, they have highly complex cases and need medical treatment that is not available in their home countries.
We have a comprehensive and experienced international patient services team, including highly trained medical concierge professionals.
Our international care coordinators combine patients’ medical needs, individual preferences and cultural expectations to create a personalized experience at Johns Hopkins. In addition, skilled language interpreters and translators who are proficient in dozens of languages support patients and their families, while our patient experience team ensures international patients and families know what to expect and how to get the support they need during their stay.
In 2015, we opened a clinic specifically for international patients whose rare or complex medical needs to bring them to our health system, and we expanded that service with an additional location in Washington, D.C.
Dr. DeRuggiero, you are a featured panelist at the 4th International Health and Wellness Tourism Congress, to be held in Santo Domingo from September 5-7th. Please, tell us more about the topic you will present at the discussion titled “International Patient Experience.”
We know patients must consider many factors when choosing medical care, including matching their condition with a hospital’s demonstrated specialties and capacity for complex care.
We also know that receiving medical care in another country can be stressful for many patients. At Johns Hopkins, our care begins with the patient and the family. We provide compassionate care to our patients every step of the way—before, during and after their stay.
Providing the very best clinical care is a key priority, but we also honor patients’ personal and cultural needs so Johns Hopkins feels as close to home as possible, and they can focus on their recovery and health.
Dr. Katherine DeRuggiero and the role of her department
Which specific task does the department you lead does in making the patient as comfortable as possible while at JHI? Please guide us through a sequence of actions performed.
Johns Hopkins has one of the most experienced programs in the United States for delivering high-quality care for international patients traveling far from home. Our compassionate international concierge and care team provides each patient with a personalized, stress-free and respectful experience throughout his or her visit to Johns Hopkins.
Before the visit:
- From his or her first inquiry, we pair each patient with a caring, knowledgeable international medical concierge who speaks in the patient’s preferred language.
- A medical expert reviews the patient’s medical records.
- The concierge provides cost estimates, schedules specialist appointments, assists with hotel and ground transportation, and provides a detailed itinerary.
During the visit:
- Our patient experience team explains what to expect and how to access a range of services, including international newspapers, internet access, specialty grocery stores, restaurants, shopping, and banking.
- Our care team is prepared to handle any urgent needs.
After the visit:
- The care coordinator ensures the patient has all the necessary medical records and prescriptions, as well as any follow-up instructions from doctors.
- The patient receives a consolidated final bill, with a financial counselor available to answer any questions.
Thank you, Dr. DeRuggiero for such detailed explanation about the process. It’s easy to understand, very informative, and provides great value to a patient.
Last but not least, I want to touch base on the 4th International Health and Wellness Tourism Congress.
As you know, Dr. Alejandro Cambiaso is the President of the Dominican Health Tourism Association and host of the main event of the industry in Latin America. What are your thoughts about Dr. Cambiaso’s work?
We believe all countries should have access to the best medical care possible. It is all part of our mission to improve the health of the community and the world by setting the standard of excellence in medical education, research and clinical care.
Dr. Cambiaso’s work is helping to develop the medical travel industry in the Dominican Republic. Events like the International Health and Wellness Tourism Congress allow us to provide important information to help the medical community stay abreast of the latest advances in medicine and enable the public to make informed decisions when it comes to health care.
Can you make an invitation to the 4th International Health and Wellness Tourism Congress in Santo Domingo, and to the panel in which you will participate?
It is a pleasure to represent Johns Hopkins Medicine at the 4th International Health and Wellness Tourism Congress on Sept. 5-7 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. As one of the speakers on the “the International Patient Experience” panel, I look forward to connecting with local and international healthcare experts while sharing ideas, trends and innovative practices in patient care, safety, and quality.
I want to thank Dr. Katherine DeRuggiero for the interview. As the Editor-in-Chief of DoHeWell, it is an honor to interact with such an extraordinary professional that has devoted a lifetime to healthcare.
I met her at the Johns Hopkins Medicine event las April. Very professional, educated, and charming woman.
Thank you Soraia Angiuoli for introducing me to Kathy, and Marisol Martinez for coordinating the interview.
See you in September!
See Dr. Katherine DeRuggiero below.
Video source: AF Comunicación Estratégica