VC Notes Archive Office of the Vice Chancellor
Friday, November 20, 2015

Opportunity is Knocking

Good morning!

As I was thinking about today's VC Notes, it occurred to me how often what we think of as our problems or challenges are really opportunities in disguise.  Our health-care system offers many examples.

chassin_photo.jpgOn Monday we were honored to have Dr. Mark Chassin present a grand rounds on clinical quality. The president and CEO of The Joint Commission, the nation's leading accreditor of hospitals, Dr. Chassin is one of the world's foremost authorities on quality improvement and an evangelist on the subject.

In his talk, he spoke of the cycle of “Trust, Report, Improve” that should be the mantra of everyone in a high-reliability organization, regardless of the industry.  Our teams must maintain trusting relationships among themselves and also with other members of the organization.  They must be “sensitive to the smallest deviation from established process” and report those variances.  And when those variations are spotted, they must improve the process far “upstream” before they affect the patient.

As an organization, we are moving in the right direction on our journey to becoming a high reliability organization, or HRO.  For some of us, this may look like a steep mountain to climb.  But we should also think of it as an opportunity.  Why?  Because achieving HRO status opens the door to many other things we want to achieve and helps us manage other challenges we are facing. 

  • Becoming an HRO makes us more efficient.  It means we spend less time and money doing things that don't help us achieve quality outcomes or enhance the patient experience.  It also means we avoid spending resources fixing our mistakes, what's called the cost of poor quality. 


  • Becoming more efficient, in turn, helps us with our capacity issues in our hospital and ambulatory settings.  We can move more patients efficiently through our system and improve their satisfaction by avoiding needless waits. 



  • Ultimately this efficiency shows up as a savings to our health system, with more care provided at less cost and, hopefully, with financial incentives secured through the federal Pay for Performance system.


The other opportunity enhanced by our becoming an HRO is our ability to partner with other health-care organizations.  As health-care reform gains momentum, we're seeing consolidation in the marketplace, even here in Mississippi.  Health systems and providers are combining to gain economic efficiencies and assume responsibility for the health of populations.  Many factors enter into the process of selecting a partner or affiliate, but demonstrated commitment to clinical quality is certainly crucial, for its own sake and for the reasons I mentioned above.

These opportunities disguised as problems are present in our other missions.  Think about the changing paradigm for funding the nation's biomedical research programs.  Or the movement toward a new model of interprofessional education to build the health-care teams of tomorrow.

These are all opportunities to lead, to serve, and yes, to achieve our goals for Mississippi.

But here's the thing about opportunities.  They don't have an unlimited shelf-life.  They may not carry an expiration date, but there are “windows” that at some point close, or at the very least, limit the options available to us.  

So when opportunities knock - and believe me, they are knocking now - we'd better be ready to greet them with open arms.  In fact, let's go and find them before they reach our door.  That's what it will take to get to A Healthier Mississippi.

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