Client Interview with Gary Burns, Senior VP of Operations at Beacon Behavioral Hospital in Louisiana

Improving Patient Safety, Real-Time Accountability, and Revenue

ObservSMART’s proven compliance technology provides valuable data that improves patient observations and staff accountability. The system’s use of mini tablets synced with our patented tamper-resistant wristbands enables hospital staff and leadership to experience peace of mind knowing that rounding is being properly conducted at the appropriate times. 

But that’s not all — a behavioral health hospital system in Louisiana has noticed impacts in revenue, as well.  

Gary Burns is the Senior VP of Operations at Beacon Behavioral Hospital. He has been using the ObservSMART system in all of his behavioral health facilities for almost three years. He talked with us about how each facility has experienced an automatic increase in the accuracy of observations.

Read on to learn more about the impact of ObservSMART at Beacon. 

Q: Could you talk a little bit about your background in healthcare? Where did you start, and what led you to your current role?

A: When I began my healthcare career at the ripe old age of 18 as a mental health technician, I worked at psychiatric inpatient facilities — primarily at an adolescent unit — for a number of years. Then, I left the unit to go to the intake admission part of the facility as an intake coordinator — all while I was attending LSU for my bachelor’s degree. 

Knowing myself, I turned right around and went to graduate school because, if I had a taste of freedom, I would not have done it. I got my Master’s in Social Work and became the department director of a psychiatric assessment team for a regional medical center. 

After a couple of years, I returned to a free-standing [role]. I had done inpatient social work, administration, marketing, etc. I became a hospital administrator in 2011 of a free-standing adult inpatient unit. I was there for about six years and then moved on to more regional roles. A couple of years back, I became responsible for operations at all Beacon hospitals. 

Q: So, how long have you been with Beacon?

A: 15 years. It was way back in ‘83 when I started.

Q: Can you tell me about your current role?

A: Now, I oversee four inpatient hospitals, and I’m in the process of developing/opening a fifth. A lot of my days are spent working with my administrators – helping them navigate COVID crises in their facilities, helping them navigate personnel issues/staff behavior, and navigating staff response to behaviors.

Map of Louisiana

Q: What led you to explore your options in implementing new compliance technology?

A: We were struggling with nursing supervision of care – that was boiling down to the staff observations. Just like everyone else, we were using the Q15 minute check sheets, one sheet per patient per day with nursing to indicate oversight of guidance of those observations. 

The problem was when we took those paper documents and began to compare them with video, we noticed some questionable behavior. 

We attempted a lot of different low-tech interventions that, frankly, were ineffective.

Along the way, we began looking at other options, and through that progression, somebody on the staff mentioned ObservSMART in passing, and we began to do some research. The administrator made contact, we did some due diligence, and looked at some demos. 

Basically, we were looking for a solution to solve our problems: “How do we have real-time supervision of our staff?’” So we chose to move forward with ObservSmart. We went through with implementation and it provided the solution for the challenges we were facing. 

And what we discovered was there was an automatic increase in accuracy of the observations. The charge nurse is now able to see the patients and when rounds are due on the desktop monitor. There are also notifications and the ability to escalate, if they go beyond the threshold. 

That enhanced level of real-time accountability was the problem we hadn’t been able to solve before ObservSMART.

Patient Safety Word Cloud

Q: In addition to access to real-time data and proximity-based capabilities, what are some of the other benefits that you’ve experienced as an Administrator and heard about from your behavioral health staff? 

A: Increased trust with medical staff. 

I was able to get all of my remaining facilities set up with this technology — not just one. In one of the facilities, I had originally noticed that the number of one-on-ones the psychiatrist was ordering was probably averaging about four a day —  which was killing the staff. We don’t budget for acuity — we adjust for acuity, so there’s no budget for that.

This was presenting some operational challenges, because I may not have enough techs to cover one-on-ones and continue to admit new patients. 

There were times when a difficult decision to put a hold on admissions was made, so that impacts revenue. You have increased spikes in staffing costs. In the service industry, which healthcare is, the number one expense is staff, so this expense was being elevated as well. 

After going live with ObservSMART and having the system in place for two to three months, we began analyzing and sharing the data and gained more confidence in the completion of observations. With this, there began to be a decrease in physician orders for constant observation (one-to-ones). Four one-to-ones a day became two one-to-ones a day, on average. 

Two a day is much more manageable. And there are many days when there are none.

My hospital didn’t move, my medical directorship didn’t change, so the only thing I can attribute that to is the increased comfort or trust that the observations are accurate and timely. And to be able to validate that on the back-end…It’s a game-changer. 


ObservSMART made such a difference to Beacons’ operations that Gary was able to implement the technology in all of his facilities. All over the country and beyond, behavioral health professionals are finding security and accountability with ObservSMART’s patient safety and compliance system. 

Request a demo to find out how this proven patient safety technology can make a difference in your workplace.