Somewhere I read that excuses are like noses. Everybody’s got one, so go ahead and pick one.
Efforts to improve health care are kind of like that: seems everyone has a reason not to tackle this tough issue. Some of the excuses are legitimate enough. Some are just excuses.
As the nation’s leaders in health care improvement gather in Orlando beginning Sunday for the National Forum of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, they’ll hear a lot of excuses — but the focus will be on overcoming them. The advice from here: just do it.
In advance of the conference, two of our executives, CEO Jim Anderson and CFO Scott Hamlin, shared their thoughts and experiences about improvement on a special Web-based broadcast on WIHI. The 700 or so who tuned in got an earful about “patient flow,” that process of making sure we have the right patient in the right place at the right time being cared for by the right team.
Despite a lot of skepticism, we launched an effort a few years ago to make sure we were using our facilities as efficiently as possible. We started with the operating rooms, but as Hamlin explained on WIHI, everything is interconnected, so many parts of the hospital operation were touched. There were a lot of doubters.
But we have proof that it works. And the benefits are striking: patient wait times are reduced so their satisfaction is higher; surgeons have come together to design a system that meets their needs, while putting patient safety and high quality care first; the stress of making sure there are the rights kinds of beds available for patients after surgery has been reduced; our system and the hospital’s bottom line have improved because more efficient use of resources means we’ve been able to increase our capacity without adding more physical space.
If you want to read details of the Cincinnati Children’s experience, there’s a book out about patient flow and the chapter about Cincinnati Children’s is available as a free download. An audiocast of the program featuring Anderson, Hamlin and flow guru Eugene Litvak is also available.
Improving patient flow is what we call a win-win-win situation.
While the nation debates about health care reform, those of us committed to health care improvement will be regaining our focus in Orlando this coming week. We’ll concentrate on what matters most – providing safe, effective patient care at a reasonable cost.
There are all sorts of excuses not to. Enough of those. It’s time — past time, really — to do it.