It's Time to Re-envision your Vision Statement

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media , February 4, 2009

They wondered if the vision statement should explicitly state that they provide healthcare, for example. They decided that's a given. Does it need to say that they are a faith-based organization? Their name, after all, says that loud and clear.

Obviously, asking these question is just the first step—it takes more than one day to find answers, craft that vision statement, and communicate it internally and externally. But they made headway.

What's next?
Vision statements are notorious for producing a lot of talk, talk, talk but very little action. So it's tempting to leave them on that shelf, covered with a decade's worth of dust. But even if you don't re-envision your vision statement, you should be taking a look at your brand image, your culture, the way you want to do business, and the way you want to treat your patients and employees.

Why? One answer: On my way to the airport from the hospital, I told my cab driver where I'd been, and he said he had once been treated at St. Vincent when he broke both of his legs in a car accident. He'd also been hospitalized at competing hospitals and clinics. He talked briefly about his clinical diagnosis and never once mentioned the quality of his care. For most of the rest of the 45-minute ride he railed about his experiences with the healthcare organizations and his nurses, physicians, and physical therapists.

No matter what hospital you go to, he said, there are nurses who go above and beyond, and nurses who do not seem to care. His doctors were too negative, he said. They told him he would never walk again, even though he did eventually recover. And they never acknowledged his faith in God to heal him. He also talked at length about what it's like to be in the hospital—the atmosphere, the feeling you get when you walk in the door, the views out the window, the way people interact with you.

If you treat people the way they want to be treated, he said, you will get repeat business. It's true for cab drivers. And it's true for hospitals.

Gienna Shaw is an editor with HealthLeaders magazine. She can be reached at

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