37. Mission and Vision Implementation (Walking the Talk)

It’s a simple change, really.

The strategic planning/business development group at our own system is now the Department of Mission and Vision Implementation.  Why?  Because a not-for-profit hospital has one meaning for existence: fulfilling its mission.  Mission and vision statements are easy to craft, much harder to follow.

The stories of hospitals who fail to mission and vision implement are plentiful (ask your family members the next time you get together to tell you about a disappointing health care experience, be wary of the can of worms being opened).

The strains upon our health care system are such that fulfilling the mission and vision have become increasingly difficult, that’s no reason for retreat (in fact, make it a call to arms).  Questions of quality remain as hospitals say they are dedicated to providing the highest quality care.  Charity care is questioned as hospitals promise to provide for the community’s needs.  Treating patients with dignity and respect continues to be a challenge.

It’s akin to the marketing department at a corporation whose lone function remains advertising.  Marketing is their business.  Fulfilling the mission and pursuing the vision is ours.

How often is your hospital’s mission and vision considered in decisions made at meetings?  Not often (ever?)?  Big problem.  If the mission is our purpose then every (every!) decision we make regarding the here-and-now will be guided by the mission.  If the vision is our road map to the future then every (every!) decision we make about the future will be guided by our vision.

Principle 37: If you want to be the best, then make an effort to be.  From here on out, it’s about one thing: mission and vision implementation.  Always.  Simple task with potentially staggering results: read the mission and vision before every meeting.  Every meeting.  And don’t let up until all of the organization’s actions align with these very important words, for words are words apart from action.

Treatment so fast you’ll freak

I listened to someone speak today while taking advantage of a provided lunch.  The lunch consisted of subs from Jimmy Johns.  The person said “Jimmy Johns is pretty cool, Subs so Fast You’ll Freak.”  Subs so Fast You’ll Freak is a marketing tagline used by the company.  The person continued, “Maybe hospitals should be ‘treatment so fast you’ll freak.'”  It was an off-the-cuff comment, but you know, thinking like this just might be our problem.

Health 2.0 Thoughts: Clay Shirky

It’s Wednesday, a whole week removed from the opening of Health 2.0.  The bad thing about posting a week later: everything has probably already changed.  And so, still relevant or not, this begins a yet-to-be-decided part series on thoughts from Health 2.0.

Clay Shirky had a great keynote.  Here are some selected comments (most likely a mix of my own words and his, with my comments in the parentheses):

  • Most valuable thing connected to the internet: people
  • Patient-Centric Medicine: internet is implementation layer
  • TRUST is the key (recurring theme throughout the conference) for information to flow
  • The changes made to the Catholic Church by the Second Vatican Council can be used as a metaphor for the changes going on in health care (very impressive metaphor, IMO); Vatican II shifted the focus of the church from the leaders to the parishioners, Health 2.0 is shifting focus of health care from health care deliverers to patients (I’d even argue it is shifting us from health care to health)
  • We’ve always had informal health care conversations, you just couldn’t see them before (innocent conversations around the table…)
  • When you give new people access to information things are are going to get weird, and they are

A short open letter to our dearest Health Care

Dear Health Care,

I thought it would be good for you to know that it really is possible to change—even if you’ve been set in your ways for most of your history.  Yes, it seems difficult.  But you’ve have shown a few instances of wanting to do better (indeed you may have been coerced; however, the good faith efforts have been duly noted).  I have confidence in you, even as you continue to make unsustainable business decisions.  If you need further inspiration, read this story about a 100-year-old newspaper that decided to stop actually printing a daily edition and publish in online format only.  Just remember: anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

Sincerely,

Reality

Wasted: Health care spends like a drunk sailor

Impassioned plea for action.

The biggest problem with waste in health care: it’s easy to talk about, much harder to get rid of.

And the pertinent question at this point is this: did this problem arise because of government involvement or despite it?  And the even more prescient brainteaser: will this problem be more likely solved with more government intervention or less?

Finally, (and this post is not meant as an endorsement of a particular health care payment philosophy) can a market-based health care economy bring about the needed reform or will it take a czar of American health care?

Oh, and the other thing about waste: that money is someone’s income or an organization’s bottom line.  Expect actions to reduce it to be battle-like.  We’ve definitely got some work to do.