Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Do you dig wells or channels?

10 yards wide and 200 feet deep versus a mile-wide and 20 feet deep

What’s better?  A hole as described in the title that is 10 yards wide and 200 feet deep or the channel that is a mile-wide and 20 foot deep?   Well that depends on what you’re after, if all you want is some water then the former is a good choice but if you want to build a channel that can transmit water, people, or goods then the latter is more appropriate. 

I believe that in the area of health care too many organizations are digging wells versus channels.  What I mean is that they engage in process improvement efforts within a few key departments or within the Hospital setting yet our patients only spend a short time in either setting.  If you think about the entirety of the health care continuum, it is more like the mile-wide analogy.  Our patients utilize a wide variety of services beyond the hospital walls: Home Health Care, Visiting Nurse, Rehab Facilities, Pharmacies, Social Services, and Long Term Care Facilities to name a few.  If we truly want to make a positive impact on patients we must take our Operational Excellence efforts to the next level and engage all the health care partners.

Let’s face it, you have to start somewhere regarding Operational Excellence so digging a well is not a bad idea, as a start.  People hit water, they drink, and they are quenched but at some point we need to move beyond our own easily visible needs and problems and move with the patient through all the “healthcare” places they visit or live in.  We need to form true working collaboratives with key community providers in our area and we need to collect the voice of the patient all along the health care continuum. 

If your organization has been digging wells for the last 2-4 years it might be time to rethink your OE strategy.  It’s great to have plenty of water but sooner or later you need travel beyond your small world and for that, you need to build a channel.

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