What's in an Acronym? | Pete Rivera | Healthcare Blogs Skip to content Skip to navigation

What's in an Acronym?

November 7, 2008
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I was talking to a client the other day and he was frustrated at the inefficiencies in healthcare workflows. He told me that he worked for U.P.S. before and they had very set methods for each process. So my mental rolodex started going through all the possible acronyms for UPS; University Physician Services, University of Puget Sound , etc. Finally he said UPS, as in the mail delivery service.

I was struck with the fact that there was not a magical academic medical center out there that was doing everything right and that whoever hired this person was very smart. They managed to bring in someone that was not hampered with a set “healthcare” way of doing things and is asking all the right questions. If you look at a charge ticket as if it was a box headed to grandma’s house, we would have a 20% chance it will not get there on time or get lost on the way.

So are we getting jaded by working in a system with “built-in” inefficiencies or have we come to accept the status quo as an operating costs and move on to other issues?



Are you familiar with the popular book, "Young Men and Fire" or the work of Psychologist Karl Weick that builds on it?
Weick describes people getting paralyzed by what he calls a "cosmology episode."

"the universe is no longer a rational, orderly system. What makes such an episode so shattering is that people suffer from the event and, at the same time, lose the means to recover from it."

Basically, sense-making breaks down. People get stuck in poorly functioning systems.  They behave as though helpless against the enormity of the problem they see.

IHI president Don Berwick suggested 10 years ago: "I wonder if that's what's going on in healthcare deliver systems." People are 'accepting' the status quo in a numb, mindless sort of way.

Berwick built a wonderful presentation titled "Escape Fire" with a prescription for how to transcend the Cosmological Episode.

Are you familiar with any of this?  It seems to elaborate your point, and offers actionable advice.