Last week, we hosted around 20 physicians from one of our Amalga early adopters for a two day, two-way conversation around what the most important challenges in health delivery are and how software can help address them. It was a very instructive conversation -- from which I learned a lot and met some talented, accomplished and interesting individuals.
Part of our objective was to imagine a future where software technology enabled new types of workflows and an extended delivery network beyond the hospital. There was a lot of energy and discussion about the shape of such a future (increase the focus on prevention - inside the hospital and as a core to the delivery network goals). As the discussion went on there was spirited debate about where to start, how to measure and how to pick goals that would really be transformational.
I am not prepared to go into the details of the conversation here -- but there were a few non-proprietary insights for me -- that are worth sharing:
First -- I have a much deeper understanding of the diversity of perspective, understanding and challenges -- of the various specialities and practice groups within a large delivery system. Given this beginning point -- and other factors such as physician model -- I appreciate the need for (and challenge) of leadership to enable change to really happen.
Next the dynamics of an "enterprise" health system seems more like a conglomerate than a traditional product focused enterprise -- even though they are serving a common customer and market. This makes goal setting, prioritization of metrics for performance and resource allocation much harder -- if you want to drive to a common vision.
We started the session listening to Dr. David Pryor from Ascension Health. Pryor described how Ascension set themselves an audacious 5 year goal (zero preventable medical errors) and then went about a series of process improvements to get there. It was fascinating to listen to him describe the steps, the challenges, what worked and most impressively the results they achieved in a relatively short timeframe in multiple different institutions. It truly is a remarkable story -- and given the organizational comments above -- even more impressive. It is great that he was willing to share their best practices openly.
All health delivery organizations face big challenges on multiple fronts. Everyone knows, that quality (outcomes) needs to improve and would reap large economic and social benefits. And clearly -- as Ascension has demonstrated - real progress is possible. In a truly competitive sector -- like banking -- the advancements of the certain organizations would ripple reasonably quickly through the sector (improve or lose share). This dynamic doesn't appear to be at work in the health sector. So it is going to be up to the leaders of our health delivery institutions -- to set audacious goals and drive to achieve them.