International ACHE Profile:
"Tap into ACHE’s educational offerings even if you have very different healthcare systems, because fundamentally, we all face the same issues: patient safety, physician alignment, working with third-party funders and balancing the for-profit needs with national and social philosophies."
Q: Tell us briefly about your background in healthcare management.
Q: How did you arrive at your current position?
Q: What are your primary job responsibilities?
Q: What is the biggest challenge you face in your current position?
Q: What is the biggest reward?
Q: Briefly describe the overall healthcare atmosphere in the country in which you work.
Q: How do you see the field of healthcare management changing in the next 5 years?
Q: What advice can you offer for other international affiliates?
The Why and How of Consistent Patient Safety
Craig Clapper, a founding partner and chief knowledge officer, and Carole A. Stockmeier, managing partner and COO, Healthcare Performance Improvement LLC, share their thoughts on why uniform processes across all divisions is crucial for achieving and maintaining consistent patient safety.
Why is uniformity important?
According to Stockmeier, leaders from any organization need to be firm and consistent in the principles and processes they expect their staff to achieve. Inevitably, the loudest message wins. "Healthcare leaders expect their staff to be good at everything, but they also have to provide prioritization," she says"What people hear most is what they're going to focus on. A muddled message can create inconsistencies."
Creating standardized practices to be employed throughout the organization is an inherent advantage. Standardization fosters an environment for adopting practices that can be reviewed and measured, and then employing best practices that are safe and reliable. If all divisions perform consistently over time, the organization will see true results.
Ultimately, reliability is the chassis. "When we talk 'patient safety,' reliability is the means to preventing failures that result in harm," Stockmeier says. "A reliability culture drives results in safety as well as other areas of performance excellence."
How can uniformity be achieved?
The path to uniformity starts at the top. Senior leaders need to explicitly position safety as a critical component within the organization's mission and vision. It should also be seen as the foundation of exceptional patient experience.
"Generally, what patients want is a culture of 'Don't hurt me, heal me and be nice to me,' and in that order," Stockmeier says. "If you fumble at making safety a core value, it destroys everything else. If the organization fails in safety and a patient is harmed, the rest of the patient experience doesn’t matter for that patient."
When mistakes are made, they need to be communicated so that other areas of the hospital can address the questions, “How could that happen here?” and, “How can we prevent that from happening?” But openness to telling these types of stories hasn’t always been encouraged.
"The authority gradient can differ from national culture to national culture; for example, in the Philippines, you do not speak against a male," Clapper says. And in some cases, professional cultures are even stronger than national and regional cultures. "While you know this is work that needs to be done, these barriers can be difficult to overcome. It really boils down to making it okay for people to speak up."
Healthcare executives can employ several practices to create a culture in which talking about mistakes is encouraged rather than avoided. For example, don't use patient or employee names when discussing errors that were made; make sure you've collected all the details to present a complete story; and create a "harm report" that provides a standardized way of talking about these incidents.
Another key strategy to achieve uniformity is to consistently communicate that patient safety is the job of everyone in the organization. This can be achieved by leading by example and developing service standards together. In addition, have a document that all members of the organization can point to that sets behavior expectations and outlines desired processes.
Accountability is also a necessary consideration. Accountability makes performance gaps visible and allows organizations to work to close those gaps and measure the results. It's what you do with those measurements that matters, Stockmeier says. "It takes practice and rigor that we’re not used to in healthcare."
International Hospital Federation
ACHE President Thomas C. Dolan Named President of International Hospital Federation
ACHE President and CEO Thomas C. Dolan, PhD, FACHE, CAE, was named president of the International Hospital Federation (IHF) in late 2011 and is currently serving a two-year term. He previously served two years as president designate and will subsequently serve two years as immediate past president.
The IHF, a nongovernmental organization, is the global association of healthcare organizations, which includes in particular, but not exclusively, hospital associations and representative bodies and their members and other healthcare-related organizations. As the worldwide body for hospitals and healthcare organizations it develops and maintains a spirit of cooperation and communication among them, with the primary goal of improving the health of society.
The IHF is currently in a period of revitalization, working to have as many countries represented as possible, Dolan says. The organization is seeking both full and associate members. Full membership is open to any association or organizational body deemed representative of the healthcare organizations in a country or region of the world; associate membership is open to healthcare organizations and other institutions having a distinct relationship with the provision of healthcare.
For more information about IHF, visit ihf-fih.org.
Below are new ACHE resources, such as books, study courses and websites, to help you excel in your career.
International Sessions at ACHE’s 2012 Congress
There’s still time to register for ACHE’s 2012 Congress on Healthcare Leadership, March 19–22 in Chicago. In addition to the ability to network with top healthcare management professionals from around the world, the schedule also includes five sessions geared toward international healthcare:
ACHE is also sponsoring an International Affiliate Reception the evening of Tuesday, March 20, to give international affiliates an opportunity to exchange ideas about what is happening internationally in healthcare.
Visit ache.org/Congress today to learn more, register and make your travel plans.
Additional ACHE Resources
List Your Hospital in ACHE’s Directory of U.S. Hospital Partnerships With Foreign Hospitals
The purpose of this directory is to provide a key resource for U.S. hospitals seeking to initiate partnerships with foreign hospitals as well as offer hospitals with an existing partnership the opportunity to be part of the directory.
Common Mistakes Leaders Make and How to Avoid Them
By Joan Lloyd, president, Joan Lloyd & Associates
Here are four common mistakes made by leaders at professional organizations.
This article was originally published Feb. 3, 2011, by Joan Lloyd & Associates, an executive consulting firm.
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