Where All the Hospitals Are Above Average

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media , March 29, 2013

From the statistics about waste and harm in healthcare—not to mention cost (which is what gets us into this mess, after all)—we know that about half of executives are doing a poor job of coordinating care. About half of you are doing a poor job of measuring and enhancing quality. About half of you are misjudging your market position. And about half of you are likely to be in a worse place strategically a year or five years from now than you are today. The scary—and hopeful—thing is, how it turns out is all based on actions over which you have some control.

It's fairly easy to understand why the "above average" myth carries some weight. What CEO doesn't think his or her efforts are paying off, regardless of the measure? Besides, it's not a scientific measure; iIt asks for an opinion on your or your health system's general performance. But its results can be revealing because clearly so many of you are wrong.

Everyone aspires to be on the right track, and if you're not on the right track, doesn't that mean that your work is beyond pointless because it's detrimental?

No, it doesn't mean that, but I think that's why a lot of CEOs gravitated away from "wrong track" as an answer. Sometimes, acknowledging that your organization is on the wrong track is the first step toward putting it on the right one.

In the real world, half of the hospital and health system CEOs will underperform and half will outperform the norm. By these responses, only 10% of you think you are in that group (12% were undecided). I typically hate it when researchers allow a wimpy response like "undecided" or "don't know," but in this case, it really fits, and more of you probably should have chosen that answer.

The really tough work on your part is to figure out whether you are on the left or right of the bell curve. That might call for some serious introspection, but you have to be honest with yourself, and perhaps more critically, get your team to be honest with you about the success of your endeavors. We'd all like to be above average, but healthcare operates in the real world, and so should you.

Philip Betbeze is senior leadership editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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