What is the top challenge or obstacle facing health care today?
Patient safety and the reduction of medical errors remain critical opportunities and challenges in health care. While we have made some progress since “To Err is Human,” we still have a long way to go. For example, Ignaz Semmelweis first concluded in 1847 that hand hygiene contributed to deadly hospital acquired infections. Hospitals still struggle to reliably perform even this simple intervention 173 years later.
The degree to which we improve the reliability of our care delivery will also impact many broader challenges with cost, access, reputation, and burnout. Outcomes will improve and less harm will be done. This will produce reduction of wasted expenditures andeffort treating adverse outcomes, lower the moral hazard for caregivers associated with poor outcomes, foster societal trust, and empower efforts to improve access to care. Resources currently directed at recovery from errors could be redirected towards better access to care. We can and must do better.
Who was the mentor who helped you the most to get to where you are today?
Each of us has had many that we have learned from and been nurtured by. For me, the person who helped the most early on was Tony Young. He was the CEO of the hospital where I first practiced after completing fellowship. First of all, he gave me a chance. Under his calm, thoughtful, and inclusive leadership, I grew to better understand the larger world of health. He mentored me in early roles and provided a safe place to learn and grow. No one is perfect, but he was the perfect person to guide and support me in the crucial early career stages. Thank you, Tony!
What has you most optimistic about the future of health care?
We have historically been reactive and transactional in health care. We are now becoming proactive and relational. We have many bright and driven teams are determined to create care that improves access for all while simultaneously addressing all determinants of health proactively. These changes will be the future of health care and create a brighter future for the health of our society.
What’s the one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring health care leader?
Focus on teamwork. This is not a solo sport.
What are the life hacks that make your day-to-day life more productive?
First, whenever possible, start your professional day with thoughts about a gnarly problem. You are fresh and generally thinking more clearly. There are fewer interuptions. My best work is done early prior to engaging in emails and meetings. It is difficult to preserve time for deeper thought at other times.
Second, and again whenever possible, touch things once. Most emails, tasks, and requests for input can be managed quickly to completion or delegation. Do it. What is left can be prioritized and addressed in what are ideally carved-out periods of time for thoughtful work.