Friday, June 15, 2018

The Road Less Traveled


We’re often asked to benchmark our success—to celebrate what we’ve accomplished and impart to others what we’ve learned from our achievements. This is a valid and important exercise. There is a lot to learn from success. 

When you work hard and achieve something great, there is always something to learn—takeaways to deploy on future projects. You also feel good and want to share that with others. Success can be a great motivator, and you can certainly inspire team members with victorious war stories. 

But what if we step back for a moment and think about things a bit differently—take the path less traveled? What if we take time to consider our failures? What if we spent time reflecting on the mistakes, the missteps, the things we should have said and done?  

I realize this can be difficult, and sometimes stirring up memories and feelings that you would rather leave alone, can be painful and challenging. Taking the time to really evaluate our mistakes requires one to be vulnerable. And while vulnerability is hard, it is also incredibly important. By being vulnerable, by allowing ourselves to see who we really are—warts and all—and letting others see that to, we attain a level of honesty, clarity and a way of being in the world that is invaluable.

Today, and thanks in large part to social media, we spend a significant amount of time curating our world to look perfect to the friend or follower. We obsess on capturing the perfect moment and positioning what is happening in our lives to be viewed like a “best of” highlight reel with the desired goal of driving up likes and engagement. But what if we spent some time reflecting on the moments we chose not to share and really taking a hard look at what we experienced and what we can learn from them?

In the coming posts I’m going to challenge myself to do just this and share with you some of the mistakes I’ve made and the lessons I’ve learned along the way. I think there is often far more to learn in failure than in success. 

While we will go more in depth in upcoming posts, here is a quick story to share. I am incredibly passionate about what I do. When explaining to my team a new program or initiative, I tend to get excited and pumped up about what lies ahead and this can sometimes be overwhelming for people. The excitement can cause me to move quicker than the time needed for other team members to process the idea. And while I have a completely solid and well thought out rationale for why we are tackling the project or idea, in the past I have not been as effective as I should have been in clearly communicating that to others. 

As I think back, there have been a few times over the course of my career when I am working with a team member to resolve something that has gone wrong with a project, and after some back and forth, it is revealed that they had no idea (or the wrong idea) as to why we were doing what we were doing. If they were lost, then of course, there were going to be mistakes. And that is completely on me. I take full responsibility for that.

And so how do I apply this knowledge today? I am currently spending time walking the whole Tampa General Hospital team—all 8,000 of them—through our new strategic plan which will serve as a guide for the organization over the next several years. As I prepared to do this, I intentionally and clearly built into my presentation addressing the “whys.” I made sure to stress the “and this is why” as I went through each section of the plan, leaving time for the team to challenge assumptions and ask questions, until they fully understood the plans being put into place. With this approach, everyone from the physicians to the maintenance staff, are clear on our direction moving forward.

I look forward to sharing some of my journey with you in the coming weeks. As always, thanks for engaging with me. I welcome your thoughts and your feedback.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Health Leaders Media: Move Over Star Wars; Hospital Command Centers Take the Spotlight


Command centers give health systems a leading edge to manage capacity and improve patient experience.

Health systems face growing capacity challenges and patient experience suffers when access is limited, or delays occur between transitions in care. In response, hospital command centers featuring sophisticated technology are springing up across the country. 

Two new facilities in Florida were announced during the last week of May, joining a list of others that have launched or announced new initiatives since last fall. 

Today’s command centers supercharge the operations many hospitals have in place to manage transfers and bed placement. The new breed uses advanced technology featuring predictive analytics and artificial intelligence. One key advantage is real-time data with information about incoming patients, ED and OR capacity, bed availability, and discharges. 

Opening in 2016, the command center at The Johns Hopkins Hospital is generally acknowledged as the first hospital to launch a concept of this magnitude in the healthcare arena. As additional health systems see value in this approach to capacity management, these new facilities will operate at the leading edge of a trend that will grow over the next decade:
  • Florida Hospital in Orlando, a member of Adventist Health Systemannounced its new facility on May 31, perhaps the first in the new generation of command centers that will orchestrate care for multiple hospitals in its system. This facility will coordinate patient care for nine central Florida hospitals, which include about 2,900 licensed beds, more than 2 million patient visits a year, and 640,000 ED encounters annually
  • Florida Hospital operates at 85% to 100% capacity, and many of its logistics issues stem from incoming transfers from its sister facilities. 
  • "It is interesting we're going to spend all this money—$15 million—on a technological solution, but it really has an individual person at the center of it," says Eric Stevens, CEO of acute care services at Florida Hospital. The center will bring a new level of technological sophistication to programs already in place, and help the system meet its strategic objective to improve the patient experience. 
  • "The core of our product is a high quality clinical outcome," says Stevens. "We think that this technology, in many ways, will help meet all the noble goals we have."   
  • Tampa General Hospital, a 1,010-bed non-profit academic medical center in Florida, announced its new "care coordination center" on May 29. The focus will be to advance care coordination, help enhance patient safety and quality, and improve efficiency.
  • "We are reinventing how we deliver healthcare by creating a coordinated, patient-centered system of care," said John Couris, MS, president and CEO, in a written statement to HealthLeaders Media. "We are designing it in a way that will provide better support and improve efficiency for our nurses and physicians."
  • Yale New Haven Hospital in Connecticut opened a Capacity Command Center in January, combining real-time data analytics with physical colocation of key operational services to enhance coordination, safety, quality, timeliness, and efficiency in patient care. The facility was developed jointly by the Yale New Haven Health Clinical Redesign initiative, the YNHH in-house analytics staff, and Epic.
  • Rush University Medical Center in Chicago announcedtheir facility last October; in December; the Humber River Hospital command center in Ontario opened its doors.
GE Healthcare Partners is helping many of these healthcare systems develop the technology used in their command centers and offers a product-agnostic approach with the ability to work with whatever IT systems a hospital has in place. In 2018 the firm will help install 10 new command centers, serving 30 hospitals. 
Mandy Roth, June 7th 2018

Health Leaders Media

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Loyal and True


As I have said before, health care is its own animal when it comes to a free market economy. Health care does not operate like cars, groceries or other commodities. You can’t build loyalty among health care consumers only with incentives like points or cash back rewards. When it comes to health care consumers, there are more complex barriers you must overcome in order to transform them into repeat and loyal customers.

Like all providers of goods and services, as health care providers, we all strive to provide consumers (patients) with the highest quality service (care) that will hopefully result in a positive experience and predisposition to return if additional services are needed. However, unlike with other transactional experiences, a positive patient experience and satisfaction does not directly correlate to loyalty. It can certainly help to move the dial in the right direction, but in the case of health care, satisfaction alone does not drive loyalty. 

While a patient might have been highly satisfied with the treatment they received, there are still barriers that can prevent a patient from returning the next time they need care. These could include:

  • Uncertainty. Not knowing if he/she needs care and which level of care is the most appropriate.
  • Research. Relying on various sources to find the right provider. This includes searching online, talking to their primary care doctor or even getting recommendations from friends or family.
  • Access. Not being able to easily make an appointment. This could be as a result of technology or capacity issues at an office.
  • Location. The location of the provider is either difficult to find or too far away.

So, what can we do to overcome these barriers and ensure their loyalty?

Here are three key steps to help get the patient back through your door:

Communicate next steps in their treatment plan before the leave their initial visit. Let patients know what their follow up care should entail and when they should pursue it. You can do this through warm hand offs to a follow up provider in your service network or even co-locating services in the same building. Have your team make the follow up appointments to ensure a seamless experience for the patient. Ongoing communication with the patient after they leave can also help prompt them to take their next step in care.

Motivate patients to return by helping them understand the health benefits of ongoing care and the burdens (financial, emotional and or physical) of foregoing care. This will inspire them to reengage.

Stay top of mind by continuing to reach out and initiate contact once they have left your facility. Provide them with opportunities to engage in wellness and lifestyle offerings—yoga, meditation or exercise and fitness classes. Often providers can leverage community partnerships to help facilitate and cost share these opportunities. By expanding offerings from treatment for illness or injury to wellness services, providers move from being a one-time medical solution to an ongoing health partner.

At the end of the day, patients want to know there is one place they can go to meet all of their health and wellness needs. From a patient’s perspective, loyalty can not only offer convenience, it can also help cement a level of comfort knowing that they have a medical home to turn to. And from a provider perspective, by reducing barriers and providing opportunities for engagement, you will increase patient loyalty and grow your business and brand.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

New Roads Ahead


In the first two posts of my three-part series, I provided you with a foundation to better understand the role of consumerism in health care today. I offered some organizational prompts and tools to help you start to develop a consumer-facing plan for your organization. But now we must face the big question… how do we make consumerism a reality in your organization?

As I have said before, the health care industry, or really the delivery of care, is dramatically changing. The rise of consumerism represents a radical paradigm shift in the industry. As a result, there will be challenges along the way as you integrate consumerism into your organization -- the most significant of which is the right speed and the right moment for implementation. You need to understand that things are slow to change, so you have to time your approach accordingly. You also don’t want to get there too fast as you might leave everyone behind, including the patients. You need to map the adoption rate to the actual customer, which is the tricky part. 

While there will certainly be challenges, they are not insurmountable. By asking the right questions, understanding your audience, preparing for the tricky moments and maintaining focus, you will have the tools you need. Here are five tips that will help you be successful:

Tip #1: Understand your bandwidth to do this work.
  • What do you have?
  • What do you need?
  • If you are committed to this work, you need to fill this void with people who know what they are doing—who can hit the ground running.
  • Consider hiring people from outside the healthcare industry to implement this work.

Tip #2: Start off slow and be practical.
  • Get a couple of quick wins under your belt.
  • Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Tip #3: Be willing to fail.
  • Failure does not mean you are bad. Failure means you are innovative.

Tip #4: Be able to track and trend.
  • What problem are you trying to solve?
  • Be able to quantify where you are before you deploy the new technology or program and measure where you are after it is in place. This shows the value in what you are doing.

Tip #5: Focus on how something can be done and not on how something cannot be done.
  • Set attainable goals. 


At the end of the day, in our industry, we can all choose to walk one of two paths. The first is the path most traveled. It is the one that continues to do things the way they have always been done when it comes to health care. The path less traveled is the one that recognizes health care delivery, as we know it, is changing.  It is a path of innovation, creativity and looking at the world through a new and different lens. I hope you will join me here.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Not Your Grandma's Health Care


The health care landscape is quickly and dramatically changing. In my last post--the first of my three-part series on consumerism--we talked about this change and how critical it will be to design a consumer facing health care strategy in the new environment.

As I explained, the first step in plan development is taking an inventory of your current services, determining where you would like to expand or grow your consumer base and evaluating your capacity to do so. The second step, which I believe is the most critical, is all about your customer – getting to know who they are, what they want and what matters most to them. This is really the key to success.

But how do you achieve this?

Today’s health care consumer is not the same as in previous generations. In the past, we would focus on one core customer—the critically ill. Now, what people want, need and are willing to pay for in terms of care and services depends on age, health and family needs, priorities and preferences. We can no longer design health care services with one consumer in mind. In order to develop a successful consumer facing plan, you need to know and understand the four types of health care consumers:

  • Young invincibles: healthy, active community members who are health conscious but are not big users of health services
  • Young families: healthy young parents with various health needs for a range of ages
  • Healthy adults: established community members who lead active lifestyles but may opt for preventative and elective care and services
  • Chronically ill: individuals with chronic diseases that require specialty care and resources 

Next, ask the right questions:
  • How can I anticipate and address the SPECIFIC needs of each of these four core customer groups?
  • How do these groups traditionally show up in our community? What do I anecdotally know about them and is there historical data I can review to help me understand their engagement patterns?
  • How am I going to get them them what they need, where they need it and when they need it at a reasonable cost, at a high level of quality and accessibility?

And if you’re not doing so already, you will want to engage (full tilt) with a database or Customer Relationship Management system to help you better understand your consumers and track and trend their behavior. Your ability to apply analytics and deploy data in your decision making will be critical to your success.

Once you have answered these questions, you should be armed with the information you need to determine the value you can deliver. Here, value can be defined as the ability to provide access to affordable high-quality care and services. Just remember: when it comes to health care and services, value means something different to a 27-year old versus a 50-year old.

At the end of the day, value, and our ability to create it, is the end goal.  If we are to provide our consumers with services that they deem to be of value, we will be well on our way to keep them coming back for more. And once you have answered the value proposition, you will be one step closer to fully realizing consumerism in your organization.

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Next: In the third of this three-part series, I will offer five tips to ensure success in implementing a consumerism plan in your organization.