Friday, March 16, 2012

Ora defines leadership

In response to my post below about work needed to be done to improve the residency program at the University of Michigan health system, CEO Ora Pescovitz wrote me:

Thanks for shining a bright light on UMHS and the work we do……we appreciate this both when we are proud of our efforts and when we recognize that we have room for improvement. It is part of the culture we are attempting to instill.

If you want to see more about what real leadership in health care is about, check out this blog post by Ora.  Excerpts:

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to have a culture of safety.

With a population of 22,000 employees and more than two million patients, visitors and guests coming through our doors each year, the University of Michigan Health System is a vibrant community unto itself. And in an organization of this size and complexity, things will go wrong, mistakes will be made and accidents will happen. What is most important is how we deal with and learn from our mistakes, problems and accidents to make sure we are always striving to create the safest environment possible.

Creating a culture of safety means many things, including:
  • Admitting our own errors and mistakes when they occur, and feeling empowered and supported to speak up when we see another’s;
  • Respecting each other’s professional input and checking our egos at the door so  that we always remain focused on our number one priority – patient safety;
  • Continuously evaluating our processes and procedures to identify areas for improvement and then implementing these improvements;
  • Engaging patients and families in health care decisions and keeping them informed throughout the course of care;
  • Holding people accountable for their work and their actions;
  • Learning from errors so that we don’t repeat them.
Health care is a human system, and humans are fallible. There is not and never will be a perfect person or a perfect hospital. The most educated, experienced and well-intended people make mistakes, and the most prestigious health care organizations make medical errors. That is why a culture of safety requires processes and systems that minimize human error.

While it may be impossible to be perfect, we most certainly can be exemplary.

I am proud of the University of Michigan Health System. But, to be a leader in safety, we must demand excellence from ourselves every single day. Because we can never be perfect, we must be resolute in our commitment to continuous improvement. I know that this Health System has what it takes to be the safest hospital in the nation. I call on all of you to engage, to recognize the important role you play and to be more diligent than ever in pursuit of this foremost goal.

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