Blog post by Colin Hung
A story out of Halifax, Nova Scotia this week got me thinking about the fight against status quo in healthcare. Nurses in the Capital Health District walked off the job to protest what they considered to be unacceptable patient safety conditions. One of the central issues was the nurse-to-patient ratio. You can read more about the protest here.
What struck me about this story was how far these nurses were prepared to go to fight what they believed was the “status quo” in their organization. Personally I have no idea whether the union is correct or whether the Health District is correct, but the fact remains that the nurses were trying to affect change within their organization but ran into enough roadblocks that they felt this drastic strike action was necessary.
Status quo is the enemy of progress, the antithesis of innovation and the black-hole into which great ideas are lost.
Fighting the status quo is especially difficult in healthcare. Perhaps it is because everyone in medicine is trained to be evidenced-based or it may be because patient’s lives are literally at stake that the cautious route is the preferred approach. Regardless of the reasons, the healthcare industry is widely criticized by insiders and outsiders alike of wanting to stick with the status quo…even rallying to keep things the same. In their Washington Post Blog, Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas sum it up nicely:
As often happens, the prospect of reform has led to a sudden eruption of affection for the health-care status quo. The airwaves are alive with impassioned protests against the idea that anyone might change a market that relies on discriminating against the old, the sick, the female, and people who don’t read the fine print of insurance policies. This is the best health care in the world, you know.
Strong words, but their point is valid. Change is difficult in healthcare because of all the entrenched beliefs and institutions. Yet for healthcare to survive, the status quo needs to be disrupted. Doing what we’ve been doing for the past 20 years isn’t going to work for much longer. We need to innovate, to adopt new approaches, to challenge the status quo (borrowing the tagline from @CancerGeeks‘ Blog site).
If you are reading this blog then you are already someone who I consider to be a healthcare rebel. In fact everyone who is a member of the #HCLDR community is a rebel. Just by banding together online through social media to discuss healthcare change puts us on the leading edge of change. Online we are a powerful choir, but in our day-jobs we are often just a single voice.
This week I would like to explore the concept of challenging the status quo within our own organizations.
- T1: What effective tactic have you used to jolt a colleague from their status quo thinking/adherence to way things are now?
- T2: How would you deal with a colleague who you believe may take things “too far” in their quest for change?
- T3: What can healthcare organizations do to keep themselves from getting stuck in their status quo?
- CT: What’s one thing you learned tonight that you can use to help a patient tomorrow?
Join us Tuesday April 8th 2014 at 8:30pm Eastern (GMT-5) for our weekly #HCLDR tweetchat!
“Why are doctors crazy enough to accept health care’s status quo?” Davis Liu, MD, KevinMD.com, April 1, 2014, http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2014/04/doctors-crazy-accept-health-cares-status-quo.html, accessed April 6, 2014
“What Green Plastic Fingers Prove About Health Care Innovation: Health care isn’t a fight between liberals and conservatives; it’s between outside innovators and the status quo.” Bob Graboyes, US News, January 22, 2014, http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/economic-intelligence/2014/01/22/the-real-health-care-fight-is-over-outsider-innovation, accessed April 6, 2014
“Wonkbook: Change is painful. But the health-care status quo is a complete disaster.” Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas, Washington Post, November 18, 2013, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/11/18/wonkbook-change-is-painful-but-the-health-care-status-quo-is-a-complete-disaster/, accessed April 6, 2014
“Organizational Silence and Hidden Threats to Patient Safety”, Kerm Henriksen and Elizabeth Dayton, Health Services Research, August 2006, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1955340/, accessed April 6, 2014
Some US Hospitals Are Challenging The Status Quo To Raise Safety Standards”, Bara Vaida, Business Insider, February 1, 2012 http://www.businessinsider.com/some-us-hospitals-are-desperate-to-stop-falling-short-of-patient-safety-standards-2012-2, accessed April 6, 2014