Wednesday, March 05, 2014

When a cancer center is not one

I don't know who the author of this blog is, but s/he has a thoughtful view of the "business plans" that seem to characterize a lot of cancer centers being set up by hospitals across the country.  It's called, "Your cancer center is just a box."  Here's the excerpt:

I had the opportunity to discuss the idea for a new cancer center with a healthcare system. The team consisted of the CFO and COO, a couple of the medical directors, several VP’s from service lines, and the marketing team.

Everyone had their list of all the inputs that they feel needs to be a part of the new cancer center. The technology, the specialists, the types of treatments. They even had a preliminary design that they had worked through with an expert architecture firm.

My honest opinion is that I have NOT seen anything in this presentation that shows you understand how families, businesses, patients, and consumers of cancer services want to use your “stuff.”

The room went silent. I could tell I hit a nerve. I told them that what they have is very manageable, but it isn’t anything special. It’s a box. It has a bunch of things in it. Yet it is still a box. I don’t do boxes.

The beauty comes when you know why people walk through your front door. . . . It comes in having an intimacy in understanding how they think, feel, react, and what they expect from your services. It comes in anticipating their needs before it even comes up and delivering the content in a manner that is easy, simple, and available.

If that is what you want, then I suggest you scrap what you think you know, and begin with the people that matter the most, those that live in your community.


Mike P-J said...

Hi Paul - have you come across the terms "Verification" and "Validation" in engineering management? We use them all the time. Put simply - verification means "are we building the product right?" - will we meet the specifications we set out at the start? Validation is a more fundamental process: "are we building the right product?" - i.e. will it actually meet the customer's needs? Sounds like you asked the validation question of the cancer centre!

Paul Levy said...

Thanks! It wasn't my question--it was the other author's--but I appreciate your point.

Mitch said...

Great post. I've learned over the course of my career that sustainable value creation (or good service or.....) ALWAYS starts and must stay centered on a deep understanding of the customer's needs. Often, in fact typically, the customer can't tell you what those needs are. Your leadership comes in studying them, however you do that, and then giving them something that in hindsight will seem amazingly obvious. Think iPhone.

This example sounds like a traditional view of the customer (patient) as a production and billing unit. Pretty typical.

Anonymous said...

I have heard about lack of patient-centeredness in medicine for quite a while now, but somehow this person's post brought it home in a completely different way. Maybe because s/he so starkly exposed their primary business interest (i.e., they built one so we have to build one, and here's how WE think it should look, no doubt based on how fancy the other guy's is).
A similar example is the cancer center at Johns Hopkins, which has a soaring fancy marble lobby with requisite fountain or whatever - and then their oncology intake clinic is decades old, crowded, noisy and hot. Which do you think the patients would have rather had the money spent on? And just who the h__ are you trying to impress, anyway?

nonlocal MD