In a recent Senate hearing, physicians from Harvard, based on recent research,
stated that hospitals are no safer today than they were 15 years ago when
the IOM Report “To Err is Human” drew national attention.
In doing the research for our upcoming book, we have found many books
written over the last 25 years putting forth strategies to improve both
the quality and lowering the costs of health care in the United States,
while no measurable improvement has occurred overall. In working with
some clients, we are helping them format successful roadmaps to address
their significant challenges, but find that little effort is applied to
the implementation of the corrective action plans.
In addition, in looking over “old” presentations and workshops
in leadership training and strategic planning that we have facilitated
over the last decade, much of our content is as relevant today as it was
when originally presented. And, when evaluating the operational performance
of Boards and Leadership Teams, we are finding that they are not even
practicing what would be considered Governance and Management 101.
So, we must pause and ask the question – “Is Anyone Listening?”
Healthcare organizations are being led by very smart people, and there
are a myriad of institutions doing the right thing and prospering. But
if there is no improvement in quality and safety overall, there must be
more organizations posting negative results which are cancelling out those
scoring on the positive side. What could be the reasons for this lack
of progress in light of the availability of many sources of knowledge
formulating potential solutions for improvement?
Obviously, this is a complex problem, and therefore the reasons will not
be found in a simple answer, but rather encompass one or more of the following:
- Leaders do not believe the “platform is burning” and therefore
are not seeking help to address their challenge
- They do not give high priority to quality outcomes, but are more focused
on financial success and popularity
- They are seeking help but are not truly “listening” to the advice
- They do not understand the advice and are not asking for clarity and further
discussions until they do understand
- They understand what needs to be done, but lack the understanding of how
- They have implemented improvement plans, but do not have accountability
plans in place so the team members stay focused on the implementation
and reaching the metrics for success for all the implementation goals
- They know what to do and how to do it, but in the end, they are just too
tired to do it
Whatever the reasons, none are acceptable. Why? Because where we have poor
quality and safely, we have poor patient outcomes. And equally important,
we are violating the sacred trust our patients have put in us when they
turned their most important gift they have over to us – their life!
To stop the stagnation of progress we must assure not only ourselves, but
our teams, that we cannot be blind to the truth where we “hear no
evil, see no evil, and speak no evil.” We must take off these blinders,
and not only listen for, learn about, implement, and hold accountable
our teams to the performance plans that we have been speaking about for
so long that will truly make a difference.