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Showing the Way to Take Care Forward

By Dr. David C. Pate, News and Community
August 27, 2013


I am very excited to have Tony Tomazic, our chief transformation officer, serve as a guest blogger today and share information about our 2013-2016 St. Luke’s Health System strategic plan, approved at our last System board meeting, and our new branding campaign, Take Care Forward.  

In the spirit of transparency, we committed to make our strategic plan public. We’re beginning today, and will continue to share information throughout the fall.

Never before has strategic planning been so critical. We face the most significant healthcare reform in history. Our journey is one of nothing less than healthcare transformation.

This is an exciting and historic time. I hope you share the excitement as we at St. Luke’s Health System Take Care Forward!

We’re working hard at St. Luke’s to connect the dots with our staff on strategy, branding, and our annual goals.

We know it’s critical to ensure people understand the big “Why?” behind an organization’s intent. Our strategy makes that kind of statement, connecting to our mission “To improve the health of people in our region,” and bringing it together in a way that we can all understand.

We’re proud of the direction we’re going, and we’re not afraid to share our strategy with everyone.

Why is our strategy unique? What makes it different from that of other organizations promising health and wellness to the people they serve? 

The strategy at St. Luke’s is driving a big change in the way healthcare professionals do their work. This change absolutely must include a business model that makes sense and that takes into account what’s best for the people who need care. 

Some might say this sounds an awful lot like the HMO business of the past.  It isn’t. 

What makes St. Luke’s different from HMOs is the “why” behind our strategy. It’s not about restricting care; it’s about getting all your healthcare professionals to work the same way – for you. 

When I explain the difference to people, I say: “It’s not like we want to keep you from getting the right test, or an MRI when you need it – it’s that we shouldn’t make you get another one a week later, just because you’re in a different office.” 

It seems like pretty common sense, but sadly, it’s not what we’ve experienced in health care up to now.

What else is different? 

It’s not just the changes in care and the changes in the business model we’re after. It’s also being really focused on making the experience lots better for the people we serve. 

That part isn’t just nice to have; it’s a must-have. It’s got to work better for you. 

So how do we do that? We are working to make programs and places that people can go to get help before they need to see a doctor with a problem. 

You’ve heard of proactive care and preventive medicine, and that’s what we’re making a reality. The way most healthcare professionals get paid today relies on seeing patients for specific problems. They don’t normally get paid to help people stay away from their office. 

The old model means we’re good at helping people once they get sick, but it doesn’t do the best job of keeping people healthy so that they don’t get sick to begin with. The change we’re after puts the focus on health. When you hear such phrases as “caring for the health of a population” and “accountable care,” that’s what we mean.

The strategy points to seven initiatives that we’ll work on. Those initiatives are going to keep us really, really busy – because there’s a whole lot of work to do to complete them. 

The first one, connected to all the others, is using data to make our decisions. 

Can you picture driving your car without a speedometer, or without a gas gauge? You’d have to guess how fast and how far you could go – and some people would be better at guessing than others. 

What we’re doing is providing useful information to all the people involved in your care, to make sure we have real data that makes a difference.

The other six strategic initiatives have to do with:

  • Making sure we include the community we serve in all our work.
  • Working together as one organization.
  • Not doing things that are wasteful.
  • Working with healthcare professionals outside St. Luke’s to make care better.
  • Leading the way in quality.
  • Focusing on you – all the time.
Every single bit of this work depends on the incredible people who support it. Our great team at St. Luke’s is honest, professional, respectful, and truly cares about our patients. That’s in our strategy, too! 

Even more, we’re committing to a promise that we’ll do everything we can to provide people with an excellent experience and excellent results.

We recently shared with St. Luke’s leaders an “essence” video, comprised in part by images from staff members. Those images were offered for us to use because employees wanted to share the things that they cared most about.

The images in our video speak to who we are as an organization, and what we believe is important: that we’re part of the community, serving the people we know, and we’re all committed to a meaningful mission. 

I wanted to make sure I shared the video in this blog post, so that everyone can share it.

We are proud of who we are, and what we stand for. And you can tell based on this picture how employees feel about our commitment!

At that leadership meeting, I was pleased to share our internal brand campaign, Take Care Forward

Being a marketing guy, I know that what we say to our own people should be the same thing we say to the public at large. We should walk the talk. 

As a result, our upcoming external marketing campaign will include our Take Care Forward theme, and we’ll convey the same message to the people we serve. I’m excited to introduce that messaging to the community starting next week. 

The integrity of our messages, inside and out, relies on people understanding “Why?” The cascade of our strategy, brand, and goals is under way throughout the organization and will be rolled out to all of our staff by October. We’ll also be sharing our strategy with the public.

Our web site will be updated with links to documents that illustrate our strategy, and help answer questions. 

As a preview, here is a link to an informational graphic that speaks to the strategy and how the pieces all come together. We're also making available a short video that helps describe what we mean when we talk about accountable care.

You can expect to see more of the strategy posted in concert with the marketing launch in early September. 

I hope everyone is as excited as we are about our commitment to change health care and to improve the outcomes, experiences, and lifestyles of the people we serve. 

The people who work at St. Luke’s each have their own reason, their own “because,” for our critically important transformation. They are at the heart of our strategy – they are people who are committed to change. All those unique reasons are as individual and special as the people who work here. 

We can’t wait to Take Care Forward !


About The Author

David C. Pate, M.D., J.D., is president and CEO of St. Luke's Health System, based in Boise, Idaho. Dr. Pate joined the System in 2009. He received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center.