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Why Can't Healthcare Solve Its Own Problems?

An interesting question posed at 4 health leaders offer wide-ranging suggestions, including building trust and collaboration, reducing the number of stakeholders yet finding ways to work together, and reforming the tort liability system.

Hard to argue against 'more trust' isn't it? Yet it's axiomatic in healthcare that one person's 'waste' is another person's 'income stream.' You mess with my income stream and I may have a problem trusting you.

"Go get some trust..." sounds a little like comedian Steve Martin's promise to teach us how to be rich. Says Martin, "First, go find $1 million dollars!" Umm, OK. I'll go find some trust while I'm at it and fix healthcare's problems too.

Maybe it's fair to consider the requirements for more trust. What preceeds trust? What creates the right conditions for trust to occur? There's no tried-and-true formula, no "add two parts water, stir and presto! Trust!"

No, but a strong sense of leadership COURAGE is my personal formula.

As a herd-driven industry, healthcare suffers from an acute lack of courage. We're more comfortable doing things once they've been validated by a Modern Healthcare cover story (think most of what passes for healthcare strategy) or the Federal government bribes us to do them (think EMRs.)

(As an aside, I've always wanted to conduct an experiment with the strategic plans of 50 randomly-selected healthcare organizations, I'd rip off all the covers, mix up the plans and then challenge the assembled executives to pick THEIR plan out of the pile. I'd offer an award to the few who could and free consulting to the rest. But I digress...)

Yes, trust is in the problem-solving mix. But instead of an initial condition, might trust be an outcome of courageous problem-solving? Of courageously and correctly identifying the problem? Positing strong if initially unpopular countermeasures? Stepping out, taking action? Of showing courage in acting on a compelling "...make no small plans" vision, a vision with which others can enthusiastically engage?

Nobody trusts who or what they don't respect, somebody who minimizes the challenges in favor of business as usual. Nobody trusts the Captain saying "We're taking on a little water" when all the passengers know the iceberg tore a huge gash in the hull and the ship's listing 30 degrees to port.

Say what you want about lemmings and 'Fraidy Cats, fuzzy, lovable critters all. But would you trust one sufficiently to follow?


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