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Best Practices Stem from Alignment

December 6, 2011

I think that it may be helpful to look at where we are now, and where we are going.

I arrived here a little more than two years ago, and set out to achieve three things in the first year. I wanted to:

  • Create alignment within and across the System;
  • Optimize the leadership team; and
  • Instill accountability throughout the organization.
Today, I want to expand on my intention to create alignment. In future blog entries, I’ll discuss the other two objectives.

The power of our System comes from realizing the benefits of alignment. That’s the reason for our ONE campaign.

Alignment starts with identifying the organization’s mission, vision, and values. Mission is the reason we exist. St. Luke’s mission is “to improve the health of people in our region.”

Vision is what we strive to do or become. “St. Luke’s Health System will transform health care by aligning with physicians and other providers to deliver integrated, seamless, and patient-centered quality care across all St. Luke’s settings.” That’s our vision.

Values are the principles the organization and its employees embrace as they carry out their day-to-day business in realizing the vision. Our values are integrity, compassion, accountability, respect, and excellence. I will write much more about our mission, vision, and values in blog entries to come.

For six months, hundreds of stakeholders (employees, physicians, leaders, board members, and community representatives) from around our System worked to review and, where needed, revise our mission, vision, and values. This process culminated with our Health System Summit in March of 2010.

That summit, and the push for all of us to understand our shared mission, vision, and values, already are bringing benefits.

For one thing, we’re sharing more. Identifying and sharing best practices from any one of our sites, and then standardizing and hardwiring those practices, allows us to make faster improvements than would occur if everyone worked independently and did not share what worked and what didn’t.

Quality has been one of the areas that we have approached in this fashion, and doing so has resulted in a tremendous acceleration of our quality initiatives with very impressive results.  In January, I’ll explain some of the tremendous accomplishments we have had in this area.

The time we’ve spent getting into alignment has allowed us to introduce new and improved ways to work. The implementation of Lean as our standard operating procedure starting in January of 2010 is part of the transformation of our System into an organization that trains staff on the front lines how to implement process improvement that involves the relentless pursuit of waste, standardization of our processes, a standardized problem-solving methodology, and communication boards that permit people to quickly visualize what things an area is focusing on under each of five pillars: relationships, quality, service, stewardship, and people. They can track progress and see the current level of performance against set goals and targets.

I am excited to see just how far we have come in creating this alignment and how, though very young as health systems go, we have come together in ways that are truly benefiting our patients, our employees, and our physicians.

Until next time, I wish all of you and your families the most special holidays ever.