From the desk of the Chief Medical Officer
By David Edwards, MD
“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory." - W. Edwards Deming
“Change is inevitable - except from a vending machine. “~Robert C. Gallagher
I think these quotes are helpful to put a perspective on health care and Banner Gateway in particular. Potentially, the next few years could see the greatest change in health care in our lifetime.
Not only with new diagnostic and therapeutic tools for patients but even more fundamentally in how we are paid; the relationships between hospitals, physicians and insurance companies; and the very infrastructure we use to share information. Deming, an engineer who helped rebuild industry in postwar Japan (in particular Toyota), reminds us that we don't have to change. But I agree with him, those who won't change, will not survive.
Banner Health is moving forward towards development of the Banner Health Network to develop new relationships to meet the challenges in the coming years. These are uncharted waters and our initial work with the CMS ACO model affords us the chance to experiment with these relationships between hospitals and physicians, and those who reimburse us for our services, to find out what will work in the unique Phoenix market. This allows us and our physicians to be ahead of the curve.
I often tell the story of the Polar Bear Strategy in describing how I view Banner’s position for the future. Four middle-aged, out-of-shape, overweight men are out hunting in Alaska and they have one gun between them. After several days, they notice that there's been polar bear poop outside their campground each morning. That evening as they're sitting around the campfire, they discuss how they are being stalked by a polar bear. As they sit there quietly, they realize one thing. They don't have to be able to out run the polar bear, just one of the other middle-aged, out-of-shape guys. Banner is in a very good position providing high-quality health care with a good infrastructure and financial status. We will be able to “out run” other health care systems that may not be able to change quickly enough.
Banner Gateway Medical Center has undergone significant leadership change in the C suite and other levels of leadership. Banner moves executives around because it improves performance as new leaders with different skill sets build upon what was accomplished by previous leaders with different strengths. It is viewed as a sign of good, not poor, performance. I look forward to learning from Todd and the other new leaders who are coming to this campus as this will make us all better.
And in closing, Robert Gallagher reminds us that in spite of the stressful times change brings, we need to have a sense of humor which can really help our perspective. And if humor doesn't work, as I told one of our colleagues, when the going gets tough -- hug your kid, it helps us remember what is important.