They fill the health club in January. It's so easy to see how the world ought to be. But attendance drops off as they discover there is work involved. Physical work. And pain. And sacrifice. By March their resolve begins to dissolve, and the health club is mine again.
Will healthcare be different? Will we be able to lose some weight? The continuous expansion of costs in our healthcare system resembles an over 40 waistline, and changing the paradigm that generates these costs will win a spot on the "Biggest Loser." Doing nothing, however, is a threat to our economy and to the healthcare system itself. There is always the chance that Congress will recognize the problem and do something no one will like.
So, let's make some resolutions to reduce costs in healthcare in 2011.
1. Become more efficient. More than that, let's set up a mechanism for becoming more efficient. This means that the effort will continue beyond initial success. Perhaps a team with training in Lean and associated disciplines. These folks will roam the halls, helping various process owners wring the waste out of what they are doing.
2. Integrate and communicate with physician groups. Look for ways to share information and resources. Get surgeons to schedule their own cases via the internet. Why should a patient have to register in the hospital when they are a known patient in the surgeon's office? And we can schedule the post op visits from the hospital recovery room. Look for seamless integration and transparency for the patient. These techniques will save time and money for everyone.
3. Promote and reward wellness among healthcare employees. They should be an example for the community. There are lots of examples from industry. Pick one . . . or two . . . or twenty-two. Make it happen. Don't forget to collect data to demonstrate success.
4. Look at the visitor/family experience in any healthcare institution. These are future customers, and a captive audience. What do they need but don't know it yet? How about a health assessment while you're waiting?
6. Prepare to compete. Select at least one process and make it world class in terms of the patient experience and the profit margin. Next year, do something else.
7. Try to maintain our resolve beyond March.