I think this is a good time for a checkup, or physical as it is termed in the healthcare industry. I mean this is a good time to check the health of your site or setting. As healthcare providers, we are dedicated to curing our patients of their ills and keeping them healthy. My question is, “Do you have the same attitude about the place you work?” Is your site meeting its highest goals? If not, then it is time for a change.
I think that as a group healthcare sites are a lot like our patients. Some patients don’t work hard at keeping healthy. In fact, many engage in behavior that is very detrimental to their well-being. You probably can easily image such a person. Maybe they are very overweight. Well, there are many healthcare facilities that are like that. They have many processes in which there are steps which add no value, that are a complete waste of time and effort. Then, there are patients who do a lot of the right things. They eat correctly, get a good amount of exercise, and generally have a positive outlook. There are a few healthcare facilities that are fit too.
What does a healthcare site in not so good shape look like? These sites, I believe, have as their goals just to meet their compliance standards, those set by the state, JHACO, or the FDA or some other body. As long as they are being accredited, they are satisfied. Their attitude may be, “If it isn’t broken, don’t change it.” They are like patients who are content to just sit on the couch, watch TV, and eat whatever they like as long as they don’t feel poorly.
What does a healthcare site in good shape look like? I believe that such sites are continually looking for ways to better themselves. They engage in “continuous quality improvement” activities. They are really concerned about the health and attitudes of their patients and clients. They use surveys and they question and listen. Some even use a tool called quality function deployment when designing new facilities or programs.
Besides listening to patients, they pay close attention to their employees. They actively seek ideas from the employees on how things could be done better. They want to have their employees enjoy working at their site and support its mission. The leaders of such sites actively reflect this attitude.
Further, such sites seek ways to improve the processes at their site. They cut waste and save time and improve the bottom line. Many tools for doing this can be found in quality disciplines such as Lean Healthcare and Six Sigma. You can find a very good white paper on Lean Healthcare at the http://www.IHI.org website.
What are the results of these positive and active approaches? Our patients are happier, fitter, and find time to do the things they want. They generally live longer with fewer health problems. Healthcare sites which are actively engaged in continuous quality improvement programs generally find that they have the time to accomplish their objectives and don’t feel rushed, they have an improved bottom line, and they rarely experience adverse events. The doctors don’t have to work impossible hours to accomplish all they want. They work as a team.
Let me encourage you at this time to sit down with your colleagues and leaders and assess the health of your site. If you find that you fall short of what you should be, I hope that you put in the effort to reach the best goals. After all, we expect the same from our patients, don’t we?