By Brian Paradis, Senior Partner
The healthcare industry has been described as “the most complex endeavor on the planet.”
It is hard to say this definitively, but there is certainly an element of truth to the sentiment. As professionals who work in the industry – and as patients who consume its services – we have all come to understand the complexities of healthcare. One of our most important roles as leaders is to simplify it, both for our staff and caregivers, as well as for the benefit and understanding of our customers, patients and their families.
We can begin to simplify healthcare by treating it as we do most problems that need solving – instead of treating the symptoms, go deeper with a root cause analysis. At the center of that analysis, you will find that much of our industry’s decision-making revolves around the concept of time. Henry David Thoreau said, “The price of anything is the amount of time you exchange for it.” Time is the universal value, so it demands our attention. It demands it in two perspectives within our operational healthcare processes; time spent waiting and time spent with.
A decade ago, while serving as chief operating officer for a health system, I inherited a deeply dysfunctional emergency department (ED). After several failed attempts to fix it, we began internally asking the question, “why do patients come to the ED?” The initial responses were complicated and very clinical in their articulation. Finally, one of the front-line managers hesitantly offered, “to see a doctor.” A simple, but ultimately correct assessment. We then organized everything – from our approach to our ultimate decision-making – around that one objective. Gone were the multiple priorities and performance metrics. Gone were the ambiguous and anecdotal quality goals. I asked no question for almost eighteen months except, “what is our ‘door to doctor’ time today?” Soon after, the entire process, both inside and outside of the ED, had been mapped out with previously unparalleled clarity.
Source: This article was first published in Becker’s Hospital Review on August 22, 2018 and can be read in its entirety here: https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/simplifying-healthcare-it-s-about-time.html