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Bring Your Big Ideas

Mission encourages all team members to be innovative

By Kevin Litwin on February 12, 2018


Lauren Pittman has worked in human resources at Mission for the past nine years, and she enjoys the opportunity to explore and try new things.

“I’m all about the employees and how they feel about Mission, so they can provide the best care to patients,” she says. “Right now, I’m part of a business process redesign team that is a combination of HR, finance and IT, with leaders forming cross-functional teams to be more effective and provide better workplace experiences for all employees.

“The positive employee experience here leads to new innovation and creativity. For example, a recent success is that ER patients today are now immediately assessed, then taken to an examination room, which has significantly dropped the wait times for patients to see nurses and doctors.”


Dr. Ben Aiken is medical director for Avenu Health, a new direct primary care practice designed to provide hassle-free care when, where and how patients need it. Opening its first facility in downtown Asheville in March 2018, Avenu Health seeks to redefine the experience of primary care and transform healthcare to work better for everyone.

“Delivering primary care in this way eliminates many of the headaches experienced in our complex healthcare system,” Ben says. “Avenu patients pay a monthly membership fee in place of insurance. It’s a clear, transparent, up-front fee structure.”

Avenu Health is powered by Mission Health and also offers best-in-class technology that gives patients easy and direct access to providers by text, phone, video, or telehealth e-visits.

“We expect 50-75 percent of the care we will provide at Avenu will be virtual, and it’s all covered under a patient’s monthly membership fee. Everything is designed to be helpful to the member.”


Randy Burkert wanted to bring his background in engineering to the healthcare world. After spending 20 years in manufacturing with R&D, product development and process improvement, he came to Mission Health five years ago, and today is manager of the Mission Health Center for Innovation.

“Creating and designing something that has never existed before has always been a passion of mine,” Randy says. “The Center works closely with Mission team members and corporate partners to advance innovative ideas.”

One recent success was collaborating with healthcare giant Cerner and Mission nursing professionals to develop the Cerner Patient ObserverTM. This features an infrared Microsoft® Kinect® gaming sensor to actively monitor patients in bed and alert when there is a risk for a fall.

For 2018, he says Mission Health is exploring several new opportunities, including a comprehensive telehealth platform to connect with any care provider across the system in an easy, seamless way.

“The nation hasn’t widely adopted telehealth yet, and nobody has really figured out how to use the technology in a completely integrated and highly effcient way. Mission wants to innovate telehealth in 2018.”


Sheila Radcli has been an RN at Mission Health for more than 40 years. Five years ago, her leaders asked her to consider working on a construction project.

“Not many nurses are devoted full time to building projects, but I am,” she says. “Today, I am the clinical project manager for the new Mission Hospital for Advanced Medicine that will open in summer 2019.”

Sheila credits Mission leaders with having the insight to ask for advice from a nurse, and someone from the clinical arena.

“I’m involved in the planning and serve as a liaison between clinical teams, physicians, architects and contractors. For Mission to have a nurse on this type of project is very forward thinking, and this new hospital will look to the future.”


A college background in sculpture and ceramics helps Meghan Roach in her position as a CarePartners orthotic and prosthetic technician, where she designs and builds devices using plaster, carbon fiber, thermoplastics and other materials in the fabrication process.

“Prosthetics are devices that replace missing body parts, and orthotics assist existing body parts. My art background is certainly helpful as I make custom devices for patients at Mission,” she says “I also worked as a goldsmith for a while, and that taught me how to be very precise, hone my craftsmanship and pay attention to every detail.

“I need a thorough eye. Patients not only want devices that function well, they want devices that look good because they wear them every day.”

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