To Solve BIG Challenges, Sometimes We Need to Think SMALL

Shane Waslaski

Healthcare has never been more expensive and complex than it is today. The challenges have never been greater. And as the transition to value-based care models continues and care delivery expands far outside the traditional health facility model, complexity is perhaps the one thing of which we all can be certain. While thinking about all the big challenges in the industry – security risks, uncertainties, big data – I recalled the Hospitals & Health Networks article entitled Hospitals Need to Pay Attention to the “Little Data” at the Point of Care. In the article, authors Elwood Headley, M.D. and L. Rita Fitz examined the impact that hundreds of small moments at the point of care have on highly visible performance metrics, such as net revenue, readmission and patient satisfaction. For example, positive outcomes and experiences in a busy medical clinic depend on the convergence of dozens of caregivers, technicians, supporting staff, supplies, medical equipment, available exam spaces and technology systems. The complexity is not linear, but compounding. Failures in any one or more of these systems – referred to by the authors as “micro fractures” – add up to millions of unnecessary dollars spent across the healthcare system every day.

One of the most prevalent reasons these micro fractures persist is that we view each of them as being too small to matter. Nurses have come to consider time spent making phone calls in search of open beds a normal and necessary part of their jobs. Patients are accustomed to arriving 15 to 30 minutes early for appointments with the belief it will help them see their caregiver as scheduled. And, we all know that approach doesn’t even guarantee we will be seen the same day if the caregiver’s day has been disrupted by the unexpected. In short, we have come to expect our systems to fail…and they do.

So, where does that leave us? Put simply, we break a big complex system into its smaller parts, acknowledging and understanding precisely what is actually happening at each point of care. Where are micro fractures occurring? Why are they happening? Why does it matter? And if we resolved the collective whole of each smaller piece, what positive impact can be achieved? At InSites, we are driven by an unrelenting desire to provide leaders visibility into all these small moments which make up patient experiences and outcomes. Collectively they are the building blocks of healthcare’s key operational metrics like time to service, asset utilization and operating margin; at InSites, we call them the “Big 10.”

Knowing the parts and achieving real-time visibility is an important foundational step. But, what’s next – knowing what to do with the information and how to align resources and initiatives across organizations to implement necessary changes and make them “stick” – is even more critical. We have been partnering with healthcare systems for years to assess operations and identify pivotal opportunities to support the achievement of transformational improvements. We are humbled when our customers and partners have asked us for more help in these areas. We want to help you recognize the small parts, the micro fractures, understand what’s happening and why, and be a trusted extension of your team to plot a clear and compelling strategy for improving your operational systems, processes and experiences.