Improving Excellence in Healthcare with Dr. John Kenagy

July 29th, 2015

This interview originally appeared in the SPEAKING.com Blog

Dr. John Kenagy is a well-respected physician, executive, academic researcher and lecturer with a unique view of healthcare. Forbes magazine featured Dr. Kenagy as “the man who would save healthcare.”

Success in 21st century healthcare requires more than excellence,
it requires an organization to succeed seeking value rather than volume.

SPEAKING.COM: What are some of the common characteristics shared by successful healthcare organizations?

KENAGY: Excellent care is obviously important, but Centers of Excellence (CoE’s) have been around for a long time – it’s a 90’s term and times have changed. Success in 21st century healthcare requires more than excellence, it requires an organization to succeed in seeking value rather than volume. They work differently than traditional CoE’s, therefore I call them Centers of Value and Excellence (CoVE’s). Characteristics of a successful healthcare CoVE’s include:

a. A clear, consistent, meaningful and patient-centric Value Proposition. 

b. Flexible, responsive, interdisciplinary care teams with everyone working at the top of his or her license.

c. Customizing care based on the evidence of what this individual patient needs now (evidence-based care).

d. Developing frontline staff to have the control and accountability to sense, respond and adapt to individual patient needs as a continuous system, not as a project or an event.

e. Simple, easily understood language and rules that enable everyone to work across disciplines and silos. Vertical integration created the volume-driven CoE’s of the 1990’s; horizontal integration across the continuum will create the value-driven CoVE’s of the 21st Century. There are many examples in my book Designed to Adapt: Leading Healthcare in Challenging Times (e.g., see pp. 15-25).

SPEAKING.COM: You coined the term “Adaptive Design.” Would you please share more about this concept and how it can foster patient satisfaction?

KENAGY: Good organizations in any industry, including healthcare, are great at “making, optimizing and selling” what they already do, but the data shows that 95% of those companies find it very difficult to innovate and do something completely different.

As a Visiting Scholar at Harvard Business School, my research focused on the 5% of established organizations that could optimize and were also great innovators. They had the ability to “sense, respond and adapt” as times were changing. I saw common characteristics of success in those 5% and translated them to healthcare as Adaptive Design.

One result is that every organization that has used Adaptive Design has improved patient satisfaction. For example, in one year–a nursing unit in a Mid-Western community hospital that was the pilot site for Adaptive Design–had the most improved Patient Satisfaction in their entire 17-hospital system (see Designed to Adapt, pp. 135-137).

Rather than trying harder with projects and consultants, the staff and management developed the capability to “sense, respond and adapt” to meet the changing needs of their patients in real-time.

Adaptive Design makes everyone accountable for value-generating, patient-centered care as part of their daily work, and it gives them the simple rules, skills and tools to deliver. That simultaneously generates a great patient experience.

Adaptive Design concepts apply to any complex, dynamic, unpredictable business environment
– the rules are the same, only the nomenclature changes.

 SPEAKING.COM: Does your experience with the delivery and reception of healthcare apply to organizations that are not in the healthcare industry? And if so, how?

To read more of the interview, head over to the Speaking.com blog

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