NATIONAL HARBOR, Md.—It’s happened to every hospitalist who has pushed for a quality improvement (QI) project in their hospital: A chief says no because there’s no money for it. Doesn’t matter if it was the chief medical officer, chief operating officer, or the chief financial officer—the answer is no, no, no.
The best way to change the answer? Change the question.
“Think like they do,” said Mahalakshmi K. Halasymani, MD, SFHM, vice president for quality and systems improvement at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System in Ann Arbor, Mich. “Think about how healthcare is paid for. … [Administrators are] much more likely to release resources if it matters to the institution’s ability to collect money, or get a better survey next time.”
Dr. Halasymani, an SHM board member, co-led the session “The Value Proposition to C-Suites: Aligning Hospital Resources to Support Hospitalist QI” with hospitalist Mark Novotny, MD, FHM, who held several C-suite positions at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington, Vt., before parting ways with the hospital in early April. Both physicians urge getting organized before taking any case to hospital or health system administrators. Some of their tips:
- Define the scope of your proposal. Tackling too many issues can appear over-reaching. Attain a reasonable goal and build on success; that works better than swinging and missing with loftier goals.
- Attack topic areas with metrics. QI projects are only as good as the data they produce.
- Be interactive. Bring a C-suite member along on daily rounds for a week to showcase the problem you hope to address. When an administrator sees a need for improvement in real time, the issue is personalized. If administrators won’t come to rounds, go to them wherever they are—medical executive committee meetings, patient safety sessions, etc.
“Create a compelling story so people can see you not as an enemy, but as an ally,” Dr. Halasymani said. “To do that, you have to be where the conversations take place.” HM10