We are now knee-deep and headlong into Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act. The Main Event is set, at least for now, on January 1st, 2014. This is when purportedly all Americans will have purchased their tickets to seek admission to the insured affordable healthcare match. Healthcare organizations, doctors’ offices, and community clinics will begin to see and treat a population of folks that has historically not had access to insurance, and they come sicker than we have seen before. Our operation, fiscal, and quality outcomes resources will be challenged like never before. If your fight card does not include a pound for pound approach to strategy and culture, get ready for a TKO! In this time of focused patient centered care delivery models and innovative transformational approaches to healthcare, there is a real barn burner about to begin.
Peter Drucker said “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. If that’s the case, where then do we put our efforts? Strategy alone will not be enough. If healthcare organizations expect to come out the winner in the next decade, they will need to condition themselves to go the distance in both culture and strategy. As we begin to see a population that has not had access to routine healthcare for many years, or ever, the strength of our strategy and culture will be put to the test.
Operationally our strategies need to include a focus on culture as it relates to leadership excellence, the empowerment of our workforce, consistency in the delivery of quality service, and creative innovation. Walt Disney did a great job of this. Walt effectively demonstrated with great heart and passion that the actions of one leader, multiplied be the actions of many, can re-shape a culture and an organization. Operationally we need to invest in our leaders, empower them, and hold them accountable to creating a healthy and conditioned workforce that has been well equipped to meet the challenging needs of the populations we’re tasked to serve. Operationally we need to invite every person in our organization that has anything to do with patient care to take part in finding innovative ways to do things better and leaner.
One often missed leadership strategy in creating great operational outcomes is by inviting your customer into the ring. Who are your customers? Remember, everyone is your customer when it comes to operations. Anyone that has anything to do in your organization is a customer. This includes your management team, billers, coders, housekeepers, those that answer the phone, and the patient! Everyone is your customer. Your entire team of customers should be given the title of Personal Performance Partners. Invest in them as a strategy and the organizational culture will win in every round.
Everyone is your customer.” – Susan Thorn Tweet this!
What about the organizational level of fiscal fitness? The promise of more in the way of budget cuts and payment denials has the fight purse getting smaller and smaller. As the purse gets smaller, our number one strategy needs to include a fully engaged culture. Organizations that look at their bottom line without understanding the impact of culture on it will suffer. Culture is like the wind, it is invisible to the eye, but felt by all. Culture is built by the values expressed through its leadership. If you want to assure that you will be at your ideal level of fiscal fitness then your battle cry needs to be “Culture is our bottom line”.
What about outcomes? We are now being held to a new level of accountability when it comes to creating favorable healthcare outcomes for the populations we serve. If we don’t do it well, we are as good as a white-collar boxer, we don’t get paid! As a healthcare leader and consumer I have seen both sides. Quality in outcomes with the resources availed to us will take new and innovative approaches if we expect to go the distance. We are already seeing hospitals partnering with community clinics to prevent hospital remissions. Healthcare organizations are beginning to move toward a case management model approach for the high-end users of our healthcare systems. Population based case management for our most vulnerable populations’ results in a unanimous decision in adding to the way we can all deliver better and leaner quality in healthcare.
So where does your organization weigh in on culture and strategy? If your strategy and culture don’t touch knuckles before the opening round, somebody is going to get sucker-punched. Make cultural competency your organizations biggest innovative strategy to win in healthcare!