From the Editor


Robert Fromberg, Editor-in-Chief

I procrastinate. Not chronically or for long periods, but when faced with a report to write, I find myself with a sudden need for a snack.

I can only imagine the desire to delay that healthcare financial managers feel when faced with some of the projects described in hfm magazine.

Whenever I feel that urge to stall, I remember this story.

A former coworker of mine moved from Florida to Chicago for graduate school and stayed. Ten years later he still had not gotten his Illinois driver's license. (He would renew his license while visiting his mother in Florida.) Finally, after all those years, he decided that he had delayed long enough. Today would be the day. He would take the train to the State of Illinois Building, fill out the necessary forms, and suffer whatever opprobrium he had to face if it came out that he'd lived in Illinois for 10 years without getting an Illinois driver's license. He picked up his gym bag (which he carried with him everywhere) and left his apartment.

He walked about a half block toward the train when a motion in his peripheral vision caught his attention. A police car pulled to the curb beside him, screeching its brakes. Another was right behind that one. Soon, my friend was surrounded by police officers. They did not look happy.

"Let me see your driver's license," said one.

My friend dug out his wallet and handed over his license.

"Where do you live?" said another.

"Around the corner," my friend answered.

"But you have a Florida license," the first officer pointed out. "How long have you lived here?"

My friend paused. "Um, 10 years."

"You've lived here 10 years and you still have a Florida license?"

"I swear," my friend said, stammering, "I swear, I was on my way to get an Illinois license!"

The officer shook his head in some combination of amusement, pity, and disbelief. "You hear that?" he said to his fellow officers. "After 10 years, today he decides to get his Illinois license. Has nothing to do with a police officer asking to see his license."

The other officers snickered. One said, "Can I look in that gym bag?"

It turned out that someone carrying a black gym bag had committed a robbery in the neighborhood, but the officers quickly determined that my friend was more to be pitied than pursued.

I suppose the moral of my story could be as simple as, "Don't put off until tomorrow (or, in this case, for 10 years) what you can do today." But to add to my motivation, I like to put a little more bite into it: "If you procrastinate, the police will surround you and make you feel silly."

I'm not doing anything as important as analyzing a hospital's Medicare margin or tracking the financial effect of clinical process improvement. But for me, remembering this story usually gets me to the task at hand.

Publication Date: Friday, October 01, 2010

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