Flutter Those Wings - On Breakthroughs (Thanks SIPA, Lisa H)

Last Thursday at the HP Campus in Cupertino, CA one of my favorite bloggers, Lisa Haneberg 0f Management Craft (www.lisahaneberg.com) gave a great talk. "Breakthroughs - Turning Small Efforts into Big Results," was sponsored by SIPA and Invincibelle.

I strongly encourage anyone visiting Silicon Valley for business (or pleasure) to hook up with SIPA (SIPA = Silicon Valley Indian Professionals Association). Toss aside any misconceptions you may have about the benefits of attending an event thrown by a membership organization with such a laser-focused demographic.

SIPA members (thanks Nikhil, Johnny, and Holly) wooed this travel-lagged East-Coaster with homemade samosas, chai tea, and sparkling conversation. They're among some of the most friendly, down to earth, low key 'networkers' I've had the privilege to meet.

It's refreshing to find an organization where conversations are based on genuine interest, where the business card exchange is a thougtful and polite counterpoint rather than the main event. If this organization goes outside the Valley guys and gals, give me a call. I'll be happy to help kickstart a DC branch.

Now back to Lisa, who's currently toting her wonderful ideas cross-country (covering 10,000 miles with the strength of a Crusader and a panache only this red-haired bundle of inspiration riding a purple bike can pull off).

Check out her site, take a gander at her calendar, and if there are any open spots near you employ any means necessary to get her in to speak with your people. Also, her newest book is a great read for those who may feel singed by the first flames of burnout.

Manager's Motto for the Day: Seek ye events that might put thee outside the cushy, comforting norms of current hospital/HC networks.

Within 48 hours of Lisa's talk, I'd learned of a new startup (Worksona.com, a kind of custom LinkedIn for your inner-company network, thanks Holly), shared my deep and abiding love of Jott, and received emails from Holly, Johnny, and Nikhil, who's started his own blog. In addition, Lisa and SIPA have helped recharge my batteries.

Too often, the last one to realize you're close to burnout is - you.


Back to the Drawing (Hospital) Board - BASICS

I'm privileged to sit on the Board of Directors for MEDBANK of Maryland, Inc. (www.medbankmd.org), a Baltimore-based nonprofit providing free prescription medications to more than 35,000 low-income residents in need via partnerships with pharmaceutical firms' patient assistance programs (PAPs).

As a relative 'newbie' to the world of nonprofit governance, I find myself occasionally drifting back in time, wishing desperately for the dog-eared copy of Robert's Rules of Order we used during my tenure in a college service frat (Alpha Phi Omega). Oh for a gavel...

When the Board's discussions deteriorate, opportunity for progress and innovation (much less moving forward from issue identification to implementation) also breaks down.

My point? Whether you sit on the board of a nonprofit, a for-profit, a hospital, a tech startup, or your daughter's summer lemonade stand (action item 1: buy 12 cans of frozen mix, 2 pounds of sugar) there are few ways to encourage an atmosphere of effective collaboration like breaking business down into stats that are as easy to swallow as Sally's Special Lemon-Cranberry blend.

Although good old Robert sure has it right when it comes to strictly ordering the events at a meeting, it's far more important to be sure your Board members get the right information to advance decision-making.

Will@2-speed.com has done a great series on Board effectiveness that I couldn't hope to duplicate. Instead I'll share one of his best recommendations - the Board summary. FIRST THING in a Board meeting distribute this 1-pager (minimum) to 3-pager (max). Will makes the point this may be the only darn thing some of your Directors read/assimilate, so make it good.

According to the gospel of Will, the summary should include:
  • High-level sales statistics, including major or important deals
  • Rollouts of products or services
  • Changes in key customer, partner or channel relationships
  • Important legal or accounting issues facing the company
  • Changes from the staffing plan - major hires and unexpected departures that will impact the business
  • Unexpected changes to the financial position of the company
  • Unusual market or competitive moves
  • Status of major initiatives within the company
Obviously for a nonprofit, the list would go more along these lines:
  • High-level partnerships, including joint fund-raising events, campaigns, etc.
  • New services/offerings and appropriate market info
  • Changes in key member, partner, or channel/audience relationships, including legal/political/regulatory
  • Important legal or accounting issues facing the organization
  • Changes in the staffing plan, volunteer plan, and Board plan including major recruiting efforts or departures that could have a major effect on operations/fundraising
  • Unexpected changes to the financial position of the organization including major gifts
  • Unusual market or competitive notes
  • Status (dated) of major initiatives with progress note
A great source for building an effective nonprofit board (although I recommend their e-newsletter for all) is BoardSource. Visit www.boardsource.org for more info.

Now, Boards and executives, go forth and participate (banging gavel)!


RFID Tech 101: Patient-Centric 3PL?

Hospital/healthcare tech is one of this year's hottest (decade's hottest?) IT areas (thank you, Captain Obvious).

Let's blow right by EMRs, EHRs, PHRs, etc., the testing/implementation of which (or lack thereof) is being relayed play-by-play in the H/HC blogosphere, to RFID tagging.

My knowledge of the topic is limited, but I'll take a stab at the most basic implications/useage in our field to get the conversation going.

RFID (radio frequency ID), which can be either passive or active based on the types of tags and readers, as well as the presence/lack of an internal power source (RFID Journal, www.rfidjournal.com , is my go-to source for up to date sector developments), can revolutionize throughput and output, if only hospital systems would work in CONCERT with tech companies to generate working prototypes. Problem is, we need design collaboration from the ground up, rather than REDESIGN of existing systems built to track products.

The difficulty lies in the fact that RFID tags were created as 'smart bar codes' largely for applications in the DOD/3PL/retail supply chains (including some interesting human/animal implantation programs), and we don't tend to think of our patients as inanimate chess pieces moving from factory floor to truck to warehouse to truck to store to kitchen cabinet. Or do we? What an interesting metaphor for IP surgical flow modeling...

The market opportunity here is huge. Imagine, 6,300 facilities on the AHAs latest membership rolls alone. Perhaps 50 are exploring RFID use, maybe 20 have actually implemented tags to track 'hard' capital (supplies, equipment) or 'soft' capital (patients, staff). Please, if my numbers are off, someone post a comment with correct numbers.

So let's kick off the week with two recent H/HC RFID applications.

Heart Hospital Baylor Plano an honorable mention that opened its doors in January, will start us off on the right foot. More...

Although HHBP's deployment isn't the most innovative use of RFID tech in the hospital setting, it's a good 'starting' point for acute care facilities to test pilot RFID programs tracking supplies and equipment. In addition, HHBPs overall design and amenities are well worth a look (concierge staff offices on each floor? and I WONDERED how long it would be before we saw hospitals adopting more hospitality industry best practices).

For those hospitals who want to track patients, on the other hand - we jump across the country to Lehigh Valley Hospital where RFID tags are being used to track OR patient throughput.

More on RFID later...

EMR Dashboard Example from Dr. Greiver

A special Sunday treat for those sharing my continuing fascination with HIT - check out this posting from a Canadian doc blogging about his experience using EMRs:

Dr. Greiver's EMR: The patient Dashboard: improving communication


Running a hospital: I vote "yes" on storefront clinics

Running a hospital: I vote "yes" on storefront clinics

Health Management & Sustainability - It's Not a Sprint, It's a Marathon

Sustainability. Seems like I can't leave the house/office without tripping over the latest initiative to reduce waste, conserve resources, build green and construct a school/neighborhood/vehicle for the environmentally friendly future. Don't get me wrong - this is a good thing.

Fortunately, there's much more to the concept than laying a snazzy new bamboo floor or buying fluorescent bulbs (although that's a good start, and I really do like the look partnered with a concrete recycled particulate kitchen counter...).

Hospital/healthcare entities have more of an opportunity than most to move towards true sustainability...what could be more vital to sustain than a human life (other than collective human health)?

So here's the question: Does sustainability (in every sense of the word) have a necessary role to play in our mission as healing organizations? What about the opportunity to progress from a perspective of siloed, disparate disease treatments towards managing a person's well-being along interconnected points on a larger, circular health continuum?

If this all sounds a bit too Kumbaya, let me get back to basics. One of my favorite monthly reads, MediaPost's Media magazine, ran a great article in the Feb 07 issue. In "Green Marketing: Fresh Marketing Perspective," Lynn Russo Whylly (p.7) quotes Will Brent, SVP of Weber Shandwick.

"Sustainability is becoming the benchmark entry point," says Brent. "Companies that don't embrace it are going to be behind the eight ball. Whether it's from a natural-resources perspective or business-health perspective, or consumer-perception point of view, those are all things that encompass sustainability; without it, you'll be losing out." Thanks Will. Well said.

So is sustainability simply the continuum of care examined through another lens? It's all about the sustainability of health, for each individual consumer, at each point in his/her life where help and healing is needed most.

A vast oversimplification, it's true, however, can sustainability act as a synonym to health management? Would putting a new face on an old debate help us break out of the disease/discharge/disease cycle?

Hospitals (some) have gotten better at seeing and serving micro segments of the market...communicating with specific consumers inside traditional service lines (with offerings like prenatal yoga, diabetic cooking classes for young adults, etc.).

But these efforts are still centered on a condition, not a consumer. Service lines are still primarily oriented around ways to treat disease, and therein lies the rub.

Hospitals have historically considered patients to be in one of three 'phases of matter' (excuse the pun, and no, I'm not referring to solid, liquid, or gas):
1. Alive.
2. Dead.
3. Sick (the huge gray area between 'alive' and 'dead').

So how does your administrative/executive team view patients, really? How do you define "health management" and your organization's obligation to provide it? Are we doing the right thing for the wrong reasons? How does your organization rectify profit & loss with holistic health management and evidence based practice?

We sustain their health, they sustain our budget (or not), but can the partnership be more caring and symbiotic? As a patient, as a person, as a professional with an optimistic outlook on the future of the field, I hope so.

PS - If you want to move your hospital from the theoretical (vision of care) to the practical (physical environment of care) in terms of sustainability, check out the Hospitals for a Healthy Environment Program (H2E). Visit www.h2e-online.org.

Disclaimer: No, I am not an H2E staff member, but I have toured H2E partner hospitals and they're doing great, green things. A bit about H2E from their site:

"H2E was jointly founded by the American Hospital Association, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Health Care Without Harm, and the American Nurses Association. To achieve our vision, mission and goals, H2E is educating health care professionals about pollution prevention opportunities and providing a wealth of practical tools and resources to facilitate the industry’s movement toward environmental sustainability."