This article appears in the August 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.
Editor's note: This piece is an excerpt from a fuller case study that is part of an upcoming Rounds Event, Sustainable Patient-Centered Excellence: Lessons From Sharp HealthCare.
I n the mid-2000s, Sharp HealthCare was on two somewhat overlapping journeys, those grand goals that define health system improvement for large organizations. One was to fulfill its own self-appointed vision of the Sharp Experience, a service mission stated as "Become the best place for employees to work, the best place for physicians to practice medicine, the best place for patients to receive care, and ultimately the best health care system in the universe." Along the way Sharp also undertook the self-examination and improvement required for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, which it eventually achieved in 2007.
One of the core learnings along the path was that Sharp, for all its effort and lofty goals, still struggled to understand process, says Nancy Pratt, senior vice president for clinical effectiveness at Sharp HealthCare. "What is a process? What is a standard process versus a one-off process? Because in healthcare and in our organization we had a lot of individual processes that were not repeatable, and so you don't get the consistent results when you don't have a standardized, repeatable process," Pratt says. "There were some things that we needed to have on that consistent basis across the enterprise, whereas other things could vary for very good reasons. But to just have everything different because everybody feels like having it different wasn't going to make us successful."