Recognizing Mediocrity in Medicine

We have a major problem to solve. The problem of widespread mediocrity in medicine.

Although many Americans feel that their healthcare system is the best in the world, global health statistics tell a different story. For example, many articles refer to the cost of healthcare and the risk within the healthcare industry. Just googling “healthcare cost,” “world rank of healthcare,” or “healthcare errors in America” and it makes some very interesting reading. How do we move beyond an industry reputation that is characterized by mediocrity?

Recognizing Reality

Before we can rise above mediocrity in our healthcare institutions, we need to reconcile our perception with reality. Healthcare in America is in a dire state.

There is a saying that he Truth will set you free. The truth that freedom fosters, always comes with a price and some pain. Often, that pain is intense. As Americans, we do not like pain of any kind – especially when it challenges our traditions, norms, and historical core competencies. Also as healthcare leaders, we have a slavish adherence to “professional autonomy” which often manifests in the form of silos.

Acknowledging the truth is the only way to bring reconciliation of our healthcare system back to being a world leader of healthcare quality.

The Seeds of Mediocrity:

If we are to protect our healthcare institutions from being mired in mediocrity, we must recognize the major factors that bring it about.

Lack of Trust:

One of the major problems in healthcare today is a lack of trust. It is evident within the organizations – and between organizations – that there is no trust. This creates an “every-man-for-themselves” mindset, and divides people into different “sides.” Without trust, every colleague is at risk for survivalist mindset of competing and out performing our neighboring or competing healthcare providers in order to self-protect.

Information & Operational Silos:

Healthcare today is largely characterized by specialized groups and teams who stay within their space and do not share, collaborate, or build relationships. Silos are keen on control and securing boundaries. This cuts down on quality information, and disrupts the delivery of care and teamwork. The truth is, silo mentalities must go. When we divide up into silos, performance and outcomes take a nose-dive into the world of mediocrity.

Fear of Change

Many times as humans, we feel that we should resist change as much as possible to reduce anxiety and increases security. Change creates uncertainty and causes fear. However, instead of resisting change, a healthy organization finds effective ways to embrace it. Change is inevitable, and not progressing and improving will result in greater anxiety and fear due to falling behind as an organization and failing. The only way to reduce the stress and anxiety of change within your organization is to get GOOD at it.

Finding the Truth

As much as anything, we need to self-reflect on our healthcare culture from the past, clearly see the present, and grasp a vision of where we desire to go and how we plan to get there. Self-reflection in itself is a new mindset for many. In many cases the healthcare system in America has never been challenged at this current level, which mandates a shift in how we think, operate and lead the healthcare industry.

Knowing the truth, understanding and accepting our truths – as individuals and as an industry – is the first important step to reconciling healthcare in America back to being a World Leader among the healthcare providers in the world.

The truth is, mediocrity in medicine is toxic. If we are not always improving we are falling backwards.

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