About a year ago I was talking with a CXO at an academic medical center. She was all excited about a new rounding tool that they had just purchased. I can see why. The tool had great potential to help them raise the level of accountability for rounding and create a closed loop system for service recovery. Coming from an academic mindset, they had appointed a committee to set up all the parameters for its use. There were committees, proposals, and pre-pilot recommendations; everything but boots-on-the-ground implementation with no deadline in site. Meanwhile, the patient satisfaction scores remain static at a below average ranking. She was disappointed but not surprised. “After all,” she said on at least six occasions, “We’re an academic medical center.”
Now mind you, I have high respect for academic medicine. But somewhere along the line, everything this organization did got bundled under that special status. Even the simplest maneuver had to be studied to death. The long lags became an excuse for not taking action.
In this case, I’m talking about a well-established rounding tool from a reputable company. It is being used successfully all around the country. Why couldn’t this hospital just hit GO? Fear. Fear that their first version may have glitches. Fear that someone with power will balk and resist. Fear that the team could look bad if it wasn’t perfect. Fear that implementation would force accountability at a whole new level.
I was reading a book today and the author used the term “Pracademic not Academic” as his guide for keeping things directionally correct. I love that. Instead of studying things to death, he advocates for testing and adjusting as needed. Now that’s my kind of leader. Set the goals, outline the objectives, create the processes, test, and adjust (PDCA). That’s how you make progress.
If you find your organization stalling on the simplest decisions in the name of research, maybe it’s time to look at your culture. If there is intense fear about making mistakes you’re certainly not well-positioned for innovation. Get out from under the “Academic” excuse and promote action.
This wasn’t a new liver transplant procedure with human test subjects. It was a tool for rounding for heaven’s sake. Did it need to be studied to death? I guarantee that no lives would have been lost if they would have just taken “pracademic” action. Now a year later, the tool is still in the box. How much time and energy has been invested with the team meetings, drafts and proposals? And during that time, how many service recovery opportunities were missed? Pracademic, not academic.