Healthcare simply consists of thousands of interlinked processes that result in a very complex system. If we focus on the processes of care one at a time, we can fundamentally change the game and deal with the challenges facing healthcare. Meaningful quality improvement must be data-driven. This is particularly true for quality control in healthcare. You’re basically dead in the water if you try to work with healthcare providers and you don’t have good data. I think everybody recognizes that.
The right data in the right format, at the right time, in the right hands is crucial. If clinician teams are going to manage care, they need data. They need the right data delivered in the right format, at the right time, and in the right place. And the data must be delivered into the right hands—the clinicians’ care team is involved in operating and improving any given process of care.
If quality improvement is going to work in healthcare—if we are going to realize value—it means, we must engage clinicians. Clinicians (nurses and providers’ care team) are the frontline workers who understand and own the processes of care. But we live in a pristine time. I once received from an email from a physician leader at a leading national delivery system. I’m going to withhold the name of the delivery system, but I can tell you that if you ask knowledgeable people to list of top 10 delivery systems in the country, almost everyone would put the same organization on their list. Despite that, this physician wrote to me lamenting how difficult it was for him to get his peer physicians to see a new future. And in his email, he succinctly described the problem by saying that his physicians were “historically encumbered and demoralized.” And I love the succinctness of his description because what he is basically saying is they’re clinging to the past and are demoralized because they don’t see a new future. And in that short phrase, this very excellent physician leader encapsulated the problem and points us towards the solution.
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