Skip to main content

"Health Care Needs Two Characteristics: Inquisitiveness and Courage."

Says Molly Joel Coye, M.D., CEO of the Health Technology Center in San Francisco, writing in Hospitals and Health Networks:
"A job description for the leaders capable of carrying (health care) through the next wave of changes would include skills, intellect, understanding of the complexities of health care and fortitude. But above all, we need two characteristics: inquisitiveness and courage.

"Why" is a powerful word. Hospital leaders should relentlessly inquire why we do what we shouldn't, why we don't do what we should, and how we can discover better, cheaper, more satisfactory ways of providing care and running our enterprises.
...

Inquisitiveness can mean not only why, but also why not. If we know certain changes can save lives and dollars, why do we not undertake them?

The second characteristic we need is what philosophers call "moral courage." It's harder to marshal than bravery under fire. Eddie Rickenbacker pondered why "physical courage is so common in the world, and moral courage so rare." In health care, courage will be needed to press forward with clinical improvements in the face of overwhelmingly complex and perverse financial incentives. Change that is big enough and important enough to matter is disruptive. It threatens long-standing relationships and processes. Hoping for change without being willing to confront disruption is futile—equivalent to wanting "crops without plowing up the ground" or "rain without thunder and lightning."
Here's a calculation to get you started: when confronted with a new idea, how often do you ask "why?" That's the numerator.

Now how often do you ask "What if we...?" Or, "Why not...?" That's the denominator.

A fraction greater than one means you are "difficulties-focused." That's OK. Healthcare needs a few of you.

Less than one, consider yourself "opportunities-focused." Health care needs more of you otherwise the future mimics the past, over and over.

There's a reason I can be found on Twitter as @whatifwhynot.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Being Disrupted Ain't Fun. Deal With It.

Articles about disrupting healthcare, particularly those analogizing, say, Tesla's example with healthcare's current state, are frequently met with a chorus of (paraphrasing here) "Irrelevant! Cars are easy, healthcare is hard." You know, patients and doctors as examples of "information asymmetry" and all that. Well, let me ask you this: assuming you drive a car with a traditional internal combustion engine, how much do you know about the metallurgy in your car's engine block? I'll bet the answer is: virtually nothing. In fact it's probably less than you know about your own body's GI tract. Yet somehow, every day, us (allegedly) ignorant people buy and drive cars without help from a cadre of experts. Most of us do so and live happily ever after (at least until the warranty expires. Warranties...another thing healthcare could learn from Tesla.) Now, us free range dummies - impatient with information asymmetry - are storming healthcar…

Becoming Consumer Friendly In Five Easy Steps...Or Not

An article at hhnmag.com offers hospitals 5 steps to becoming more consumer friendly.

If you still think there's a secret sauce to your hospital becoming more "consumer friendly," these 5 steps are as good a place to start as any.  Unfortunately, it's a little like that old Steve Martin comedy bit where he says he'll teach you how to be rich. The first step is to go find a million dollars.

Step 1 from the article is realizing that "...a Medicare beneficiary with chronic conditions is different from a young mom who brings her kids in for an annual check-up." This is market segmentation for beginners, and, yes, one size decidedly does not fit all. I'm sure your marketing team's been saying this for a while.

Steps 2-5: have a strategy, metrics, a champion and resources. OK. Hard to argue with any of those.

But those things, alone or together, won't overcome culture. They're important components to be sure, but insufficient without a …

My Take On Anthem-Cigna, Big Dumb Companies and the Executives Who Run Them

After last Friday's Appeals Court decision, Anthem's hostile takeover of, er, merger with Cigna has but a faint pulse. Good. Unplug the respirator. Cigna's figured it out but Anthem is like that late-late horror show where the corpse refuses to die. Meanwhile, 150 McKinsey consultants are on standby for post-merger "integration" support. I guess "no deal, no paycheck..." is powerfully motivating to keep the patient alive a while longer.

In court, Anthem argued that assembling a $54 billion behemoth is a necessary precondition to sparking all manner of wondrous innovations and delivering $2.4 billion in efficiencies. The basic argument appears to be "We need to double in size to grow a brain. And just imagine all those savings translating directly into lower premiums for employers and consumers." 

Stop. Read that paragraph again. Ignore the dubious "lower premiums" argument and focus on the deal's savings.

$2.4 billion saved from a p…