Thursday, March 31, 2011

Coffee or Omelets?

I just had a chance to talk about my job with the students at Prairie Star Elementary School. They asked where else in the hospital I've work and I let them know I've transported patients, I've worked on the nursing units, I've made omelets and worked in the coffee shop. One student asked if I enjoyed working in the coffee shop more than making omelets - I went the coffee route. Not too many people get upset when you hand over their latte, tea or pastry!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Trust - Inspire - Pride - Engage - Believe

Throughout the Town Hall meetings, we have discussed key themes and focus for our continued success...

- Trust
- Inspire
- Pride
- Engage
- Believe (thank you for adding this one Kathy Gutteridge - so true!)

Quick story:
Priscilla Smith-Wren...thank you for our conversation today on being inspired and inspiring others. While cleaning patient rooms, Priscilla has been known to sing a song or two. She shared the story on how her singing brings joy to our patients and in turn inspires her.

Fully Engaged

Enjoy the St. Joseph Medical Center Physician Newsletter update from Dr. Donald Clement, our Chief of Staff and my guest blogger today...

There is no “I” in “team” (or so the saying goes). Never has it been more apparent to me than just this past month as SJMC excelled in the recent visit from The Joint Commission. We accomplished a great deal with our success in The Joint Commission review. This achievement is no small feat and would not be accomplished without the required necessary teamwork.

When I look around the hospital, I’m continually impressed by this very teamwork I see on a daily basis. As many of you know, I get to spend much of each day in the GI Endoscopy lab. What a great group! For over 16 years I’ve witnessed firsthand what can be accomplished when everyone is willing to pitch in and help get the job done. The staff is always looking out for the patient and striving to make the experience for not only the patients but the other staff both enjoyable and safe. I’ve also had the privilege of recently spending more time than I’d like (just kidding, Tara!) with the super folks in the outpatient Rehab Unit. These are superbly trained individuals that the surgeon can rely on. He or she can do a wonderful job with the operative repair but needs these enthusiastic professionals to affect a good clinical outcome.

Take the time to look around and appreciate your other team members in whatever area you work. Don’t ever forget that your expression of that appreciation to each of the other team members within this organization is recognized and welcomed. Imagine our therapeutic potential when we are all working together and fully engaged as members of the Health Care Team. So while there may be no “I” in “team” I believe you’ll agree that “teamwork” spells “success.”

Thank you Dr. Clement. Your leadership and support is absolutely appreciated.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Town Hall Updates

Our Town Hall meetings went well today. Great discussion with additional sessions planned this week. I'll share some summary points once we are done. Thank you all who were able to attend and participate in the discussion. A special thanks to Nan Whalen and Jenn Leonard for making the 6a, 4p and 10p sessions today. See you at 6a Wednesday for out next Town Hall.

Monday, March 28, 2011


During our Safety Huddle this morning, I asked for safety stories and inspirational stories from the weekend. Well, after a nasty weather weekend with another snowfall, many heads looked down. I mean frankly this snow is really getting to a lot of us and we just want it to end already. Just when we think we have seen the last of hits us again. Just Schwakopf spoke up and surprised all of us with...."The Snow inspired me." She went on to say that she thought the snowfall was beautiful and could see the flowers blooming. Even though it snowed once again, she spoke of seeing the positive in the snowfall and the importance of Resilience. Her words really hit me.

When I look at the ongoing changes in healthcare and at our hospital, the need to be resilient certainly is needed. We can not look at things and expect them to be exactly the same next week, next month or next year. We need to speak openly about the direction of the organization, our priorities and each of our roles in helping the organization today and into the future. Change is ongoing and it should be as opposed to waiting for things to build up and then finding yourself in a position to make drastic changes all at once. Isn't it like that in our personal lives as well?

Thank you for your words this morning, Judy. Resilience provides continued hope and encourages each of us to stay engaged or get re-engaged. It builds a greater sense of trust, pride and inspiration.

So keep that in mind the next snowfall when you expect to see Spring!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Matrix

Healthcare organizations are very complicated and there is a need for people to rely on each other in the best interest of the organization. Many organizations have a matrixed structure. I discussed this with David Ireland, the CEO of our Cardondelet Heart Institute and Ron Slepitzka, President of Avila University. Ron, a former football player shared an analogy about a football player running up the middle of the field towards - if certain players do not go into motion to block and allow the player to move through, it will be nearly an impossible task to magically run "through" thousands of pounds (of players).

David discussed the benefit of always having a lead person on a project or initiative with others supporting the lead. This project lead is not based on an organizational hierarchy. It goes back to a discussion I had a few weeks ago on co-creator vs. dependent and when each of us need to play a particular role.

The other key element is for the teams to know and understand the organization's priorities. Therefore, if I take the lead on a project and need support from 5 others, we all need to understand where my project falls on the priority list.

Think of an airline. There is a lead Pilot on each flight. The Air Traffic controllers and many others support the Pilot's effort to take off, fly and land safely. However, the Pilot needs to know what order they are in priority so the expectations are clear by all. And they usually let us know by telling us, "Folks, as you could see we have been waiting on the runway for some time now. Looks like we are 5th for take-off with an estimated 10 minute wait."

The matrix environment we have in many healthcare organizations encourages us to collaborate, leverage our knowledge, work together and communicate clearly with others impacted or involved. This pertains to communicating our organization's goals, key leaders on projects or over departments and prioritization of these goals.

Zen Den

Yesterday, I had breakfast with Jacob Schreiber, a colleague of mine and local community leader. We discussed our organizations, priorities and challenges. He inquired about the stress of the job. It's interesting to think about stressful jobs. In healthcare we make decisions everyday that could impact many lives - it could be surgical decisions, clinical decisions on the nursing floors, decisions on how we will treat one another, financial decisions and the list goes on...

Our jobs in healthcare and all of our organizations for that matter probably are stressful in many ways. My thought is that you should not be stressed everyday though. That would be a terrible way to come to work and certainly would make you ineffective.

Jenny (my wife) and I were talking about this last night. She mentioned having more "zen" or relaxation space at work. So I looked up zen in the office on Google and found a company, Ballantyne that has a "Zen Den". I think it is a great idea. As Ballantyne sees it, managing workplace stress has never been more important than it is in today’s economic climate. The Zen Den aims to help tenants find the balance with a room in which they can relax, reflect and rejuvenate. The room has been created to provide a soothing environment with soft lighting, comfy seating and even a water feature. “We’re constantly looking for ways to improve the work lives of our clients,” says Amanda Schüss, general manager of Ballantyne Business Centers. “The Zen Den provides a place for them to escape their e-mail and ringing phones and sit and relax for a few peaceful moments.”

Last year, we updated and renovated our healing garden outside. We do have space next to our cafeteria for a Zen Den concept.

I would like your thoughts...let me know what you think could make this a respite at work even if just for a few minutes a day.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Relationship Based Management

This morning I was walking around the hospital and stopped to speak with Michelle Meyer, our Manager for SJMC Carondelet Heart Institute (includes cath lab, EP lab, CV Prep and Recovery, EKG and Echo). Michelle is truly one of our exceptional leaders keeping the best interests of our patients, her team and the organization at heart. One of the things she shared with me has been the focus and balance on being an "advocate" for her team while ensuring the she manages the key aspects of her business (e.g., patient outcomes, safety, service, financial).

I really liked that balanced approach - advocating for her team and the organization. So I Googled Relationship Based Management just to see what I would find. The Centre for Innovation in Management described Relationship Based Management well. Although it is listed as a new philosophy, I think it has been an approach around for years with more recent acknowledgment of the long term benefits. They state:

While a new relationship-oriented management philosophy is evolving, command-and-control management still holds sway in the majority of our corporations. The CEO and executives see themselves as serving the interests and perspectives of all of the company's key stakeholders, not just investors. Management as a whole is focused on building strategically important relationships with stakeholders inside and outside the organization. The primary role of managers, rather than commanding and controlling corporate resources, is preserving and extending the relationships upon which the corporation depends.

Relationship-based management takes an integrated, long-term, company-wide approach to identifying and building relationships with strategically important stakeholders. Efforts are focused on creating opportunities for mutual benefit rather than buffering or protecting the company from the demands of stakeholders. Relationship building is directly linked to corporate values and business strategy.

Strong relationships can stimulate innovation, increase flexibility, reduce costs, and allow companies to respond quickly to changing customer requirements. A good reputation, based on sound relationships with customers and communities, means that companies can attract and keep the best employees. Enhanced loyalty and support from employees, customers, investors, and business partners translates into bottom line profits and long-term growth Relationships and the bottom line.

In the healthcare world, that means doing the right things for our patients in harmony with all our providers and key support areas. Thanks to Michelle and our other leaders for role modeling Relationship Based Management.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bi-Plane Suite Status

Take a look at Larry Reimer, our Facilities Manager, as he checks on things in our Neurointerventional Bi-Plane Suite set to open in a few weeks. Thank you to Jane Falk, Larry Rubin, our Facilities Team and our construction crew for their incredible work. The Blessing is set for April 25th.

Bi-plane angiography is an advanced x-ray system taking exceptional anatomical images used to diagnose and treat arteriovenous malformation (AVM) and aneurysms, as well as other vascular abnormalities. It is differentiated from traditional angiography by providing images from two different angles at the same time, significantly reducing procedure time, as well as risk to the patient.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

We Define "Healthcare Athletes"

I was approached today and asked if it was true that I had everyone move into a Yoga Tree Pose during our Safety Huddle.

Well, first let me explain the definitions of "healthcare" and athlete."

"Healthcare": The prevention, treatment, and management of illness and the preservation of mental and physical well-being through the services offered by the medical and allied health professions.

"Athlete": a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina

In so many ways we are truly athletes in healthcare or Healthcare Athletes. If you look at the definitions of "healthcare" and "athlete" above, isn't this what we do in healthcare. If we exchange some of the wording, it could read...A person who is trained or skilled in providing direct or indirect treatment and management of illness and the preservation of mental and physical well-being. This person requires clinical and technical training, physical strength, compassion, agility and stamina.

Sure, maybe I'm pushing it a bit, but am I that far off? I see the commitment, focus, training, compassion and endurance to go day after day providing care and support to those we serve.

So yes, today, during our Safety Huddle, I noticed our energy level was a little low this morning. The Tree pose helps with energy and balance - just what was needed to start our day. So, with caution, I asked everyone to slowly to move into the Yoga Tree one fell so our days without employee injury continue!

As healthcare athletes, we need to stay active, manage our stress levels, eat well, stay disciplined on continuous improvement and stay focused on our own emotional and spiritual needs. Why? So we stay healthy and help others.

We take on a lot so I do think it is a fair assessment to think of ourselves as "Healthcare Athletes" anyone?

Monday, March 21, 2011

The National Quality Strategy

On Monday, I spent the day in Dallas with my High Reliability Steering Committee (HRSC) co-chair, Dr. Charlie H., and several of my Ascension Health colleagues. We discussed the progress we've made on the HRSC and reported on the data we've collected and safety alerts for the system. In particular, how can we do a better job in each of these areas to make them more effective and meaningful. There is so much we are doing and so much more we are trying to to to improve quality and safety throughout our system. The ongoing challenge includes finding key ways to engage and roll-our to 117,000 associates in addition to our many thousands of physicians, volunteers, patients and families. One quote I enjoyed by Dr. David P., "Don't let perfect be the enemy of good. Err on the side of safety." We know that our intention is good and we know there is much work that needs to be done. We also need to be mindful to take on what we can within the resources we have at the time.

After our discussion, I was encouraged to read the release on Monday from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the National Strategy for Quality Improvement in Health Care (National Quality Strategy). In many ways, we've said some of the same things in a different way - improve the health of your community by delivering high quality care in a cost effective manner.

According to the release, the strategy was called for under the Affordable Care Act and is the first effort to create national aims and priorities to guide local, state, and national efforts to improve the quality of health care in the United States.

The National Quality Strategy will promote quality health care that is focused on the needs of patients, families, and communities. At the same time, the strategy is designed to move the system to work better for doctors and other health care providers – reducing their administrative burdens and helping them collaborate to improve care. The strategy presents three aims for the health care system:

  • Better Care: Improve the overall quality, by making health care more patient-centered, reliable, accessible, and safe.
  • Healthy People and Communities: Improve the health of the U.S. population by supporting proven interventions to address behavioral, social, and environmental determinants of health in addition to delivering higher-quality care.
  • Affordable Care: Reduce the cost of quality health care for individuals, families, employers, and government.

To help achieve these aims, the strategy also establishes six priorities, to help focus efforts by public and private partners. Those priorities are:

  • Making care safer by reducing harm caused in the delivery of care.
  • Ensuring that care engages each person and family as partners.
  • Ensuring that each person and family are engaged as partners in their care.
  • Promoting the most effective prevention and treatment practices for the leading causes of mortality, starting with cardiovascular disease.
  • Working with communities to promote wide use of best practices to enable healthy living.
  • Making quality care more affordable for individuals, families, employers, and governments by developing and spreading new health care delivery models.

The National Quality Strategy is just one piece of a broader effort by the Obama Administration to improve the quality of health care, and will serve as a tool to better coordinate quality initiatives between public and private partners. For example, the Affordable Care Act established a new Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation that will test innovative care and service delivery models. These new models are being tested to determine if they will improve the quality of care and reduce program expenditures for Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Many of us already have things in place to address many if not all of these areas. What are your thoughts on the release? How will it change things in your organization?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Who Left the Oil Cap off?

This past week, I had the chance to present, via Skype, to the Healthcare Management class with Brown Mackie College in Phoenix, Arizona. We discussed the national health policies and the impact of healthcare reform on hospitals and the communities served. We also discussed the core role of ensuring quality and safety to our patients.

As we talked about what it means to be a highly reliable organization, I enjoyed the example one of the students made regarding an oil change company. The oil cap was left off at the end of service and oil started spilling all over when she drove away. How could this have negatively impacted her? Others in the area? Who would have been responsible if she or others were hurt? What additional information would you need to know?

The main take away points:
- Improving quality is a journey

- Understand an organization's focus and priority with their quality and safety initiatives

- Understand your role in contributing to the improved quality and safety in your personal and professional lives

Back to the oil change...any thoughts on my questions?

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Happy St. Patrick's Day. Yes, I forgot to wear green however 3 West's Krystal and Regina found and pinched me!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Relationship-Based Care Unit

We are getting excited about the upcoming opening of our 16 Bed Relationship-Based Care Unit. Nan W., our Director of Nursing provides a preview update in this video.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What a Day to Celebrate

What a day of celebration...

We did well on our TJC survey, a reflection of our collective efforts.

We celebrated our Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Health with a Prayer Service this afternoon, commemorating 175 years in the United States and 145 years in Kansas City.

And...we celebrated 490 years, yes 490 years of service during our monthly employee recognition luncheon. The lunch is for all associates reaching every 5 year mark.

Check out our employees and number of years with our organization - we have five 30 year heroes:

Five Years:
- Carol Morgan
- Holly Skelton
- David Clark
- Lane Anderson
- Silvia Henriquez
- Yolanda Ross
- Amber Stalcup

Ten Years:
- James Hartness
- Amanda Hocker
- Elena Desiatkin
- David Reece
- Kathleen Mulcahy
- Lartagnan McKinzy
- Cathy Ford
- Beth Preuett
- Harpreet Singh
- Denise Lipschuetz
- Jeanette Cole
- Debbie Maranto

Fifteen Years:
- Jerry Lormis
- Phyllis Morris
- Rosaline Munoz
- Teresa Pettet
- Linda West

Twenty Years:
- Bernadette Sears
- Phillip Lytle
- Lisa Thacker

Twenty Five Years:
- Martha Cochran
- Wanderer Palma

Thirty Years:
- Vinson Liffick
- Spencer Lance
- Doris Bergman
- Margaret Elliott
- Joyce Kempf

Please join me in congratulating everyone. What a great day to celebrate.

Patient Experience on the Rise

According to GALLUP, the optimal patient experience, what all all customers and patients want is the fulfillment of four psychological elements:
  • Confidence reflects the belief that patients can always trust the hospital to deliver on its promises.
  • Integrity reflects the belief that the hospital always treats patients fairly and will satisfactorily resolve any problems that might occur.
  • Pride reflects the degree to which a patient feels good about using the hospital and about how using the hospital reflects on them.
  • Passion reflects the belief that the hospital is irreplaceable and an integral part of patients' lives.

The patient experience is not only what all hospital strive to improve, it may also impact the way we get paid in the future through Value Based Purchasing. Cynde G. and Deb O., our Chief Nursing Officers of St. Joseph Medical Center and Mary's Medical Center worked with Ginger B., our VP of Strategy & Business Development to re-focus our efforts with the patient experience. They recommended that each department stay focused on three patient experience priorities and stick with them for at least 6 months or longer to allow for greater impact. The results have been very positive in both hospitals.

Congratulations to the following departments at SJMC that are already meeting stretch goals for the year (our fiscal year ends in June) - I know your great efforts will continue:

- Cath Lab
- CT Scan
- GI Lab
- Outpatient Surgery

We have realized improvements in many areas:

Department change in net promoter scores from Quarter 2 to Quarter 3:

- Inpatient Overall +2.2
- Mother Baby +7.5
- 2 North +8.3
- 4 North +10.4
- 4 South +8.2
- 4 West +28.9...this is amazing!
- Outpatient Overall +0.9
- CT Scan +6.2
- MRI +9.6
- Ultrasound +2.4
- ER +2.4
- Outpatient Surgery +5.7

I look forward to hearing some of the initiatives with patient and customer experience in your organization.

TJC - Day 2 Wrap-up

A Note Shared with our Team:

We just finished meeting with our TJC Life Safety Survey. I am pleased to share that we did very well as a hospital and it certainly is reflective of your compassion, leadership and commitment to St. Joseph Medical Center and Carondelet Health. Our final report should be back from TJC over the next couple of weeks.

This certainly is reason to celebrate and we will plan a celebration hospital-wide in the coming weeks. A special thank you to Larry R., VP, Facilities Management, Rachelle B., Regional Director of Quality & Process Improvement and their respective teams. You led us through this ongoing journey and your many extra hours are greatly appreciated.

Thank you again for your leadership, serving our mission and centering your work on the patients we serve.

"Beyond the horizon of time is a changed world, very different from today’s world. Some people see beyond that horizon and into the future. They believe that dreams can become reality. They open our eyes and lift our spirits. They build trust and strengthen our relationships. They stand firm against the wind of resistance and give us the courage to continue the quest. We call these people leaders (Kouzes and Posner, Public Policy & Practice, 1995)."

Monday, March 14, 2011

TJC Life Safety Survey Day 1

Just an update following day one of our Joint Commission Life Safety Survey. The following went out to our team:

Once again, we should be proud...our Life Safety Survey went well today - this is the first of two days. Our surveyor was very complimentary of our team. We shared some follow-up items at our wrap-up meeting today. Please speak with your manager for the details.

After our wrap-up tomorrow, I will send out a note to all. Thank you again for your commitment to the safe care we provide each and every day.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lessons from a Polar Bear

This afternoon my kids and took part in the Martin City St. Patrick's Day parade. My family was asked to ride on the Zoo Tram handing out stickers and waving to the crowd. It was great watching one of the volunteers as he tried to set-up the inflatable Polar Bear. First, he actually went inside and a portable machine blew it up. When he started straining his back, he stepped out of the bear and held it in place as it was a major showcase for the parade. I was so impressed to hear him say that he was a volunteer with the zoo and hoped to shape the experience of visitors. And today, he wanted to shape the experience of those watching the parade.

This reminded me of the role every volunteer, associate and physician plays in hospitals. We all play a role in shaping the experience of our patients. This is evaluated through HCAHPS (pronounced “H-caps”), also known as the CAHPS® Hospital Survey. It is a survey instrument and data collection methodology for measuring patients’ perceptions of their hospital experience.

And back at the parade...I noticed that the larger your wave and louder your cheers, the better the parade experience was for the spectators. Enjoy celebrating St. Patrick's Day this week.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ok Team, Let's Get Serious

Yesterday I was having a catch with my daughters. We were trying to see how many consecutive times we could catch the ball - of course I dropped the ball most often. Skyler spoke up and said, "Ok team, let's get serious." That pep talk alone worked for Sydney. I was still the issue. Then Sydney took the coaching to the next level. She asked us to come together, close our eyes and see ourselves catching the ball with two hands, for 18 times (17 was our prior record). Providing imagery and vision at an early age. I was impressed and back in the game...we made it to 25 catches.

Teams are so critical for furthering our efforts in healthcare. We have the daily opportunity and obligation to watch after one other and coach/guide each other as needed as we further our mission and vision. We have all experienced both the good and bad traits of teams. Certainly, the teams that gel and support each others' efforts, usually make the greatest gains over time.

I enjoyed the following 7 traits of high performance teams from Cynthia Clay, the President/CEO of NetSpeed Leadership:

1. Shared Purpose and Direction

On a high-performing team, everyone on the team is committed to the team's purpose. They know exactly what that purpose is because the team leader keeps them focused by constantly communicating that purpose in team meetings and regular updates. The team leader helps each individual team member meet his or new own needs while serving the overall purpose of the team.

2. Motivating Goals

The team leader ensures that everyone on the team has clearly defined goals and targets. In some organizations, the strategic goals and departmental objectives are determined by senior management. In that case, the team leader makes sure that these goals are clearly discussed. Team members should understand how their jobs support the achievement of the defined goals, and, if possible, have the opportunity to develop individual goals and action plans that spell out how they will contribute to the success of the organization.

3. Commitment to Individual and Team Roles

On a Total Team, team members have clearly defined expectations but they also understand how each of their roles is linked to every other role. Team leaders ensure that team members are cross-trained in other responsibilities so that everyone can back each other up when needed. The team leader makes sure that individual job responsibilities are fulfilled, but, at the same time, works to help the individuals develop a common language, processes and approaches that allow them to function as a team.

4. Multi-Directional Communication

On the best teams, team members solve problems, communicate with each other, and keep the team leader updated on current challenges or emerging issues. On low-performing teams, communication is one-way (from team leader to team members) or two-way (between the team leader and individuals). Skilled leaders focus on developing multi-directional communication, avoiding the trap of communicating with individual members of the team.

5. Authority to Decide or Act

No doubt about it, new teams may have to earn this authority by demonstrating that they understand the team's purpose, processes and priorities. However, effective team leaders work toward pushing authority for the team's outcomes to the team members. Team members know how and when to get approval for decisions and, in the best of cases, are charged with making on-the-spot decisions when a customer is facing them. On low-performing teams, team members have to constantly get approval before taking action, significantly reducing their effectiveness and negatively affecting their sense of engagement on the team.

6. Reliance on Diverse Talents

Savvy team leaders pay attention to helping team members understand their unique strengths, talents, and weaknesses. No individual team member can be good at everything. The best team leaders assist everyone to develop an appreciation for individual style differences, natural gifts, and personal experience. Teams are encouraged to use the language of acceptance and appreciation, rather than criticism and judgment. Team leaders consciously hire team members who bring complementary skill sets, unique experience, and diverse perspectives.

7. Mutual Support and Trust

The seventh characteristic may be the most important, and frankly, is probably the most elusive. The team leader can't force a team to be supportive and trusting--it's a natural result of shared responsibility, shared success, and mutual respect. The high-performing team achieves mutual support and trust because they have a history of working together to achieve grand dreams and results. They have met challenges, overcome obstacles, backed each other up in good times and bad. The Total Team has earned each other's trust.

Building a high-performing team is not an easy task. However, if you're a team leader that is up to the challenge, then consciously focus on developing these seven characteristics. Bring them to your next team meeting and ask team members to evaluate them. How do you know whether each of these characteristics is present or absent on your team? What is the team willing to do to develop these seven characteristics? Then ask the individuals on your team to commit to 3 - 5 specific actions they will take in the next 60 days. Revisit these commitments regularly and see what develops.

Ok team, let's get serious!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Deployed - One of Our Own

We all woke up to hear about the earthquake in Japan. Just devastating.

Tonight I heard from Collette C., RN, one of our exceptional House Supervisors. When Collette is managing our hospital in the evening or weekends, we know we are in safe hands. You may also remember Collette from my blog entry, On Influence and Humility.

You see, others know of Collette's superior skills as well...our National Disaster Medical System where she serves as an Emergency RN. She is on her way to the west coast with the federal disaster team. At this point she may be in California, Hawaii or possibly Japan. It is her first federal deployment. She let me know that she is so proud to be a part of St. Joseph Medical Center.

Well, Collette, we could not be prouder of you for representing our hospital, our healthcare system, our nation, our World.

Be safe. We can't wait to see you back home.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mission Leaders

All organizations have missions, typically found in their mission statement.  This past week I had a couple people discussing "mission leaders" with me. Interestingly enough, both of them hold executive positions in Mission Services in their organization - Michael S. with Carondelet Health and Laura R. with Ascension Health.

The question companies typically try to answer - How are we different? How do we truly distinguish what we do from companies with similar services? Typically someone goes to a hospital for surgery, an emergency room visit, outpatient procedure, lab, x-rays, etc. It is expected that the quality of care and outcome will be good. So how do we differ and distinguish ourselves? How do we share our mission?

There are times that the "mission leaders" needs to point out or articulate  things we already doing to serve our mission. The same holds true as for the things we could do better to serve our mission. Many organizations may not have formal "mission leaders." You should count on your executives to serve this role. And as organizations progress, we need everyone moving and improving their comfort in serving as mission leaders.

I look forward to hearing your stories as a mission leader.

Friday, March 4, 2011

What's the ROI on Collaborating with Competitors?

What's the ROI (Return on Investment) for competing? How many dollars do we waste on competing? Sure, we all know we live in a competitive world. We do it in our personal lives and certainly do it in the healthcare arena. Could we all get a greater ROI and deliver better care through collaboration?

I was having breakfast with a friend and local hospital competitor and this very discussion came up. There are 23 hospital competitors in the KC region alone. During the breakfast it was evident that we had a good sense of each others strategies and vision for the future. But what is the cost to compete and how much truly brings value back to the "winning" organization? I know of many companies who complete. Some even compete against themselves in a system (and not in a friendly competitive way) - a business philosophy I never understood unless an organization could show they are tuly better overall because of the internal undermining!

Over the next 10 years, hospitals will be hit by $155 Billion. According to a recent article in The NY Times, "For their part, the hospitals agreed to help defray the costs of the legislation by agreeing to contribute $155 billion over 10 years, largely by accepting lower payments under the Medicare program for older Americans."

Well, how are we going to make this happen without doing things much differently than we do today - it will not be a quick fix or just one thing we will do differently. It will involve truly understanding our mission and purpose, assessing our our core business strengths, key strategies and overall priorities. I do think a lot will come from staying focused and disciplined on this assessment and implementation of strategies.

Some markets are doing this better than others and we could certainly learn from them. Check out Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality as one example.

How they Advance the WCHQ Mission:
WCHQ members and stakeholders join together to measure the quality and affordability of healthcare services in Wisconsin. We publicly report these measurement results through our online
Performance & Progress Report. We see performance measurement and public reporting as vital, dual mechanisms for promoting greater transparency, improvement, efficiency and equity within healthcare.

Is it naive to think we could work more collaboratively with our competitors, at least on some programs? Is that the future? So many people may shy way from those conversations instead of addressing what really concerns will "steal my business away from me." and if that is the key fear, then put in on the table and address what will happen with the collaboration if that concern becomes a reality.

I look forward to hearing ways you work collaboratively with your competitors.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Beautiful People

We had a great time at Talbots where the proceeds went towards our upcoming fundraiser for the St. Joseph Medical Center Breast Center. A great time was had by all. Jane H., my fearless Executive Assistant (shown above with the orange scarf) served as one of the fashion show models for the evening. Oh, and she also took the liberty in naming this blog entry (she made it clear that I was not referenced in the blog title)!

Pictured above:
Me, Jenny (my spouse), Jane (#6) and Jane's mother and daughter.

Music to My Ears

My job offers such variety on a daily basis.

Last night, I was speaking with one of our Nursing Managers, Sarah C. We were discussing our Organ Donation process. Afterwards, she let me know that she is an Opera Singer - so cool. She is bringing in one of her DVDs for my listening pleasure - I can't wait to hear it.

This morning, I attended the Ethic Committee meeting. There was great discussion on the use of Clinical Ethical consults and ways we could build and improve it's role and relevance in our organization. Michael S., our VP for Mission Integration also discussed how this will fit well within our efforts as a High Reliability Organization - true "music to my ears". During the meeting, I heard guitar playing with a "tenor" sounding alarm going off approximately every 30 seconds.

When I left the Ethics meeting I went next door and found the alarm noise. One of our nursing groups was getting an in-service on its use. I asked Stacey K, one of our other Nurse Managers where they were playing the guitar. She let me know it was coming from next door. So, on my way I went again....and there it was a guitar player sharing his music with one of our support group.

Such great music to my ears all morning long...and it still had not hit 8 a.m.