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Developing A Skilled and Dedicated Team At Bluestem Health

Shane Ludwig, Bluestem Health’s COO since 2014, has been developing a skilled and dedicated team as his role and Bluestem Health has grown.

Shane Ludwig

Being a Chief Operations Officer (COO) is a demanding role requiring a broad knowledge of many disciplines, relationship management, and the ability to plan, prioritize, and manage the successful execution of projects and tasks across the organization. For Shane Ludwig, Bluestem Health’s COO since 2014, it’s a role that has evolved significantly over time as Bluestem Health has grown from one medical clinic to four while also adding a mobile clinic and a central office. He has been instrumental in developing a skilled and dedicated team to fuel Bluestem Health’s success.

A Background In Health With A Strategic Focus

Shane has more than 33 years of experience in healthcare. His journey began with significant roles in large physician practices, where he honed his skills and developed a deep understanding of the healthcare landscape’s complexities. These roles led him to Bluestem Health, then known as People’s Health Center, in 2010 as a consultant to transition in-house billing to a more robust system. “If billing had continued as it had, it’s possible Bluestem Health wouldn’t be here today,” Shane says.

Shane stayed on as IT Director, a role where he developed his strategic, big-picture approach. For example, he helped land a special technology grant allowing Bluestem Health to expand its digital reporting and implement an Electronic Health Records system, replacing outdated paper charting methods. He also worked hand-in-hand with clinical providers to design new digital workflows and improve overall clinic efficiency. 

Health Grows Here

When Shane transitioned to be Bluestem Health’s COO in 2014, it was a single clinic (now called the Main Clinic, located in Lincoln, Nebraska, at 27th & Y Street). Although Bluestem Health has grown to be a resource for the entire community, expanding with new medical, dental, and behavioral health services, his management style remains based on a thorough knowledge of each employee’s roles and responsibilities. “By making it a habit to understand each role, I strive to identify pain points and develop workflows to enhance efficiency,” he says. “Ultimately, this supports our ability to enhance the services we provide for all our healthcare services.”

It’s not often people get excited about efficiency and workflow improvements, but there are real benefits for Bluestem Health’s patients. Shane, for instance, helped launch Bluestem Health’s in-house call center to simplify patient communication, and he led the charge for new software systems to improve access to patient services. “A large part of what I do is about enhancing the services we provide while also supporting our continued growth and positively impacting the health status of our patients.”

Considering Shane’s passion for workflow improvement and efficiency, it might not be a surprise that showcasing Bluestem Health’s progress during an Operational Site Visit by Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA) is what he’s most excited about. “I’m proud of what we’ve achieved and love sharing it,” he notes. “Site visits like these are how we receive some of our major grant funding, and as crazy as it sounds, I am looking forward to it because it gives us the opportunity to show HRSA how we are doing.”

Always Moving Forward

Shane believes Bluestem Health’s status as a Federally Qualified Health Center enables the organization to uniquely serve the Lincoln community. “We’re different from private practices and hospital-owned practices, and we’ve shown it’s possible to reduce unnecessary hospitalizations and ER visits while also lowering costs,” he adds. “We help the underserved and vulnerable populations in our community detect disease earlier and incorporate preventive health measures and education that lead to improved health outcomes.” 

While there are always challenges to face, Shane is optimistic that Bluestem Health will continue to enhance its services and patient care. “We have incredibly talented and skilled staff and strong leadership, which greatly contributes to our growth and transformation,” he says. “It’s because of our team that we’ll continue to move forward.”

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