Being a hospital administrator has never been easy. But the increasing rate of change in medicine (and in the world) has compounded both problems and opportunities. Plus, it's so easy for administrators and medical providers to feel like they're on opposite teams. But for medicine to really change, and for our patients to get excellent care, we need to be on the same page and learn from each other's insights.
Two articles in particular encapsulated some potent wisdom from two administrators facing volatile times in huge organizations: LaVerne Council, VA chief information officer and Albert Oriol, vice president of information management and CIO at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego.
4 things I learned about medical collaboration from two hospital administrators:
- Looks for ways you're not speaking the same language.
As Mr. Oriol shared, we can be communicating with people on a medical team, but if we're not speaking the same language, we're certainly not collaborating. This can mean aides using different words to describe a wound than a surgeon is using; or it can mean a CIO speaking differently about a telemedicine strategy than a doctor. Either way, it's crucial to try to cultivate a shared language so that we can effectively share our ideas.
- IT is a tool for all the things we want to do, not a separate objective altogether.
Another important point Mr. Oriol had is that IT is often siloed (as so many things in medicine are.) The truth, though, is that medical providers can think about caring for the patient as the goal, and IT as one tool. So many times, medical providers think healthcare collaboration or telemedicine are things that "someone else" is in charge of, when really it's knitted into everyone's job.
- Transform or die.
“External forces and the internal complexity demand change,” Ms. Council shared at one of her first public speeches as CIO at the VA. “It is not an option. When you have that many things changing on the outside, that many things changing and needing change on the inside, we have to transform.”
- Buy first.
This may sound like a detail, but orienting an organization toward "buying first" (rather than building what the organization needs from scratch) is an important mental shift. As medical providers, we don't need to reinvent the wheel -- there are a lot of great tools out there for everything from telemedicine to taking notes. Ms. Council continued: “We’ve got to ask ourselves critical questions with the finite resources we have, how best to go forward, and what is the lifecycle that will enable the veteran experience to meet the needs that we have for the future.”
We appreciate these leaders big jobs and big visions. We'll look forward to cheering them on as they take on the future in their organizations.
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