As a longtime healthcare Chief Executive Officer who began my career as a registered nurse, my passion has always been to take great care of people, both patients and caregivers. In doing so, I lead with my heart and care deeply about not hurting people.
How we accomplished this in the organizations where I have served is through disciplined process improvement and by investing in our people. We applied methodologies such as LEAN and focused on eliminating variation and waste.
We picked a manageable number of the most important metrics (not more than 5-7 at a time) to work on, not because we weren’t good at them, but because we believed in reaching absolute zero defects/harm. Our ultimate goal was to rid our health system and community from the terrible experience of harm.
I remember starting the journey to zero harm, there were people that seemed to think the goal was too lofty. Ensuring that every harm event was humanized with the patient or caregiver’s name quickly brought significance to every fraction of a percentage point. The answer is simply; we don’t want to hurt anybody. We relentlessly pursue perfection in the care we deliver to the patients we are privileged to serve, and we celebrate progress along the way.
One misconception on the journey to healthcare high-reliability is that achieving higher quality is more expensive. The opposite is true; costs go down as does variation. Measuring and reducing harm in healthcare produces real clinical value for the community and helps the organization financially. It is a win-win situation.