Transforming Healthcare from the Inside Out
We frequently tout technology as the key catalyst for change and improvement in healthcare. Looking back through the years, the rate of change in technology exceeds everything else. Some of you remember the first personal computers and cell phones. Some remember how revolutionary word processing was. And some remember vinyl and 8-track music recordings. And no, that wasn’t the dark ages! It merely illustrates the speed and immensity of transformation that has occurred in technology. Our lives are dramatically different than they were 40, 30, 20 and even 10 years ago.
Transformation isn’t something that suddenly occurs with a big bang, though sometimes it seems so. There is a human element involved in all of this progress. In the healthcare business changing is critical to survival. Not only is technology rapidly changing, so are regulations, restrictions, expectations, education and so much more. Because of that, transforming how we in healthcare do business is mandatory if we want to keep up and keep our heads above water. Behind all change is support for that change. Without support efforts will be misdirected, met by potentially immovable obstacles and most impactful, the lack of resources be they financial or human.
The most successful transformation in healthcare evolves from the inside out. In other words, the mindset, vision, communication, innovation, and passion begin within the organization and manifest to the outside world by coordinated and collected support and effort. And of course, effective leadership is required to allow, enable, and encourage this to happen. One such healthcare leader, Maggi Griffin, as CEO of John C. Lincoln North Mountain Hospital, Phoenix, Arizona, was a leader with an unobstructed vision. When asked what she’d like her legacy to be, she immediately answered, “That I increase the quality of healthcare while reducing healthcare cost.” You may be thinking – “Of course, isn’t that what everyone wants?” That may be true, but the next question becomes – “Is everyone doing something to make that happen?”
Ideas have a short shelf life. You must act on them before the expiration date. John C. Maxwell
When your vision becomes clear, you must act before it has run its course and is no longer valid, as John Maxwell implies. That is what Maggi, and her team did. Their story is well chronicled in the book they collectively wrote – Servant Leadership, Transforming Healthcare from the Inside Out. Maggi’s vision of what she wanted her legacy to be wasn’t easy then, nor has it become any easier today. With the sometimes-excessive challenges facing healthcare organizations, leadership is exceedingly difficult and sometimes the dreams seem too big to achieve. Maggi’s remedy was to rally forces within the hospital to create a team environment that would pull together to get this job done.
When your dream is bigger than you are, you only have two choices: give up or get help. John C. Maxwell
The team at John C. Lincoln Mountain Hospital came to realize that transformation was an on-going process. Why? Because patients are not all the same, and reimbursements, care plans, government and private pay regulations, technology (as previously discussed), medicines and society in general change continuously. Therefore, the learning and the planning and the execution never stop. The short shelf-life idea of today will be irrelevant and or ineffective at some point.
Chapter 12 of Servant Leadership is “Team Work Makes the Dream Work”. The idea there was to get interdisciplinary departments to work together as a team. Often those working in group don’t even know those in another group. So that challenge at the hospital took some additional assistance. Teresa Deason, founder of Lean Synergy & Solutions and Point of Volition (linkedin.com/in/teresadeason; firstname.lastname@example.org), and creator of the Deason Daily Management System™ (DDMS) was brought in to facilitate this bigger-than-life initiative. Teresa facilitated the teamwork and the organizational transformation of the John C. Lincoln North Hospital operation. The results of Teresa’s efforts, using the DDMS helped the organization earned the U.S. News and World Report ranking of one of the “Best”, ranking high in 6 areas of specialty. The system, technology or innovation was a great catalyst, but the key component was the CEO having a dream and leading her constituents, so they were motivated, encouraged, passionate, and committed to the cause. It became an outstanding team effort that produced fantastic results. Famous basketball coach, Phil Jackson made the profound statement – “The strength of the team is each member. The strength of each member is the team.”
Transforming an organization requires more than a dream. It takes more than commitment to a particular system, software, or service provider organization. It takes leadership capable of casting a vision, serving constituents, creating a cooperating team, getting appropriate help, and encouraging that team so to motivate them to pursue the dream – from the inside out.