Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Seeing clearly at MedStar

I was pleased to be invited to the quarterly Quality and Safety/Risk Management Retreat at MedStar, a hospital system that has adopted audacious goals for improvement in these arenas.   My topic was on the power of transparency in helping to bring about the kind of organizational change needed to deliver consistently high quality care to patients.  I found an attentive and engaged audience of people from all of the MedStar hospitals, hosted by David Mayer.  David (below, left) was brought into the system in the last year to lead its quality and saftey transformation.

My theme, as regular readers of this blog will expect, is that transparency's major value is in providing creative tension within hospitals so that they hold themselves accountable to the standard of care in which they believe.  This accountability is what will drive doctors, nurses, and administrators to seek constant improvements in the quality and safety of patient care.

For me, a measure of how well a hospital system is doing is the degree of modesty displayed by the leaders and staff when you ask, "How are you doing?"  Here, David asked the question of the attendees:  "On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the most transparent), how transparent is MedSatr compared to other hospitals and health systems?"  Also, "Provide one example of how MedStar can become more transparent with its patients and with its associates."  The discussion groups met for a while and returned with the following verdict:

I actually think the participants were a bit hard on themselves.  I think their assumption about the level of transparency at other hospitals was too high.  From my view, MedStar is already above average.  Of course, as I noted today, there is no virtue in benchmarking yourself to a substandard norm!  MedStar has a ways to go on the transparency front, but it is off to a good start.

I left with a terrific impression of the energy and good intentions of those in the room.  The level of participation and engagement was exemplary.  This is a system worth watching over the coming months and years!

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