Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Power of Purpose

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.  ~William James
It’s easy to understand, even predictable really, how we can get distracted by the sheer volume of projects underway in our system. What’s happening in and around our system is huge. In addition to our ccLink electronic health record implementation, we’re opening the new West County Health Center this year, expanding the Concord Health Center, continuing our improvement efforts and working on a multitude of other projects to fully realize Health Care Reform in our county.

So how do we, as an organization undergoing so much change and transformation, not lose focus and get swept away by the business of operating, updating and upgrading? I’ve felt myself being pulled into the swirl of the technological advances we’re implementing, as well as the many new exciting opportunities to improve ourselves, such as the 1115 Waiver and Delivery System Reform Incentive Payments (DSRIP) program. I want to take a moment to pause amid this organized commotion and revisit the real reason we are undertaking these monumental projects. I remind myself that these are all just tools, means to an end, to help us fulfill our purpose: to care for patients. 

There are many demands for our attention and time. Make no mistake that these efforts to improve our system are critical to realizing our mission. We are now more able than ever to provide care on a larger scale and in better ways than we ever thought possible.  But even while we are well into our ccLink implementation and other improvement and innovation, we need to keep our focus on our mission to serve.

The efforts we are making toward quality and safety improvement, patient-centered care/partnering with patients and families, and other innovations are essential. When given the opportunity to step back to scan the entire landscape of what is underway, it’s truly breathtaking to see all that we are working on. Never a week goes by that I am not asked about the innovative work you are all doing - that includes you, our patient and family partners! When I speak at events, unfailingly I am approached afterward by organizations praising your work and wanting to learn more. I think it’s because we are bold enough to try new and creative approaches with patients and family members as partners to find novel ways to do “common things uncommonly well.” What does this mean to me? It means that our system is being redesigned to provide the best and highest quality care that results in a superior care experience and an overall better health status for Contra Costans while doing so at the lowest possible cost. 

The work we do requires inspiration, and I find that remembering to refocus my attention on why I’m doing this work is crucial. Fortunately, there are many sources of inspiration right here in our own system and elsewhere. I’m currently reading “Privileged Presence: Personal Stories of Connections in Health care” by Liz Crocker and Bev Johnson. In their book, patients, family members and caregivers share their personal experiences. It’s a powerful reminder of the need for compassion and humility among those of us who work in health care. I’ve shared this book with my leadership team and the stories that many of you have shared with me and others, the resulting discussions have been reinvigorating.

If we can remain focused on our goal—to provide the best care possible for those most in need—we won’t lose track of our mission. Otherwise, the ones who will lose will be the very people we have pledged to help. Please join me in keeping a razor sharp focus on our purpose, the purpose of ccLink, DSRIP, innovation, improvement and all we do: providing the best care in the best way to those we serve.


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