Monthly Archives: March 2014

Planning vs. People

First and foremost it’s always about the people.

Remember the quote from Avedis Donabedian in a previous post titled “Quality, Evidence and Avedis Donabedian”:

“Systems awareness and systems design are important for health professionals, but they are not enough. They are enabling mechanisms only. It is the ethical dimensions of individuals that are essential to a system’s success. Ultimately, the secret of quality is love. You have to love your patient, you have to love your profession.  If you have love, you can then work backward to monitor and improve the system.”

Leaders facing problems or embarking on new initiatives spend a great deal of time and resources researching and planning.  It is an absolute necessity to optimize the likelihood of success and minimize risk.  At the end of the review a strategic plan is created.  This plan looks great on paper.  Just like every plan.  Fool proof.  Can hand this off to a room full of monkeys right?  Good luck.

One thing that no strategic plan on paper accounts for is the people factor.  And there is no industry more “people intense” than health care.  There are now over 7 billion people in the world.  Biochemically it has been estimated that we are all about 99.9% similar.  But from a behavioral, cultural and social perspective we might as well be 7 billion different species.  Frustrating to an MBA who is taught to plan and then force conformity.  This was the model for corporate driven health care.  However, it is not the model for quality driven health care.

The focus should at all times be placed on empowering the people who are providers to deliver the best care to the people who are the patients.  Health care is a people industry and if you don’t account for the people factor your plan won’t work.  The people factor always begins with good recruitmentof those who will provide care.  In fact, if an organization recruits well there is often little else to do other than provide the appropriate environment (read: culture).  If an organization doesn’t recruit well and/or doesn’t have the appropriate environment (yep, culture) then a great antagonism is created that diverts a great deal of energy and resources toward “management” and away from patient care.

So plan away.  Do the reseach and gather the data.  Analyze the data and make educated projections.  But the most important planning is always keeping the focus of any health care organization on the people.