• Persistence

    May 25, 2012

    From the Editorpg05_editor-letter-rob-fromberg

    Editors and writers are a persistent bunch. But they pale compared to healthcare professionals.

    Having been surrounded by editors my whole professional life, I've found them relentless in their pursuit of the right source, word, or piece of punctuation. I've seen a full page of discussion between Maggie Van Dyke, the editor of Leadership, and contributing writer Lola Butcher about just one sentence.

    But the stories in this issue of Leadership show that the persistence of healthcare professionals in pursuit of better health care is second to none. The examples shed some light on what true persistence looks like.

    Persistence requires engagement. Unity Health's Joyce Zimowski once described herself as a "professional pain in the neck" because she involved herself with multiple hospital departments in her quest to improve financial performance. But she knew she had to engage people throughout the organization to improve performance.

    Now Zimowski has moved from a finance role with a hospital orientation to her new role as senior vice president and COO of Unity Health's medical group, where she will continue to break down boundaries. The goal of the medical group is to align 175 employed primary care and specialist physicians behind a coherent strategy. "I need to be the doer who coalesces the right groups to get things done," says Zimowski.

    Persistence requires bold objectives. Suzanne Delbanco has made a significant mark on healthcare quality, in part as founding CEO of the Leapfrog Group, where she and her team leapfrogged over objectives about whether quality and safety can be measured. The last decade has seen significant acceptance of quality measurement in health care, including participation by more than 60 percent of the nation's hospitals in Leapfrog's quality and safety survey.

    Now as executive director of Catalyst for Payment Reform, Delbanco has set another bold objective. With less than 2 percent of payment today designed to drive value, Delbanco's organization has set a goal to increase that to 20 percent by 2020.

    Persistence has no end. In the article "Using Business Intelligence Intelligently," we hear about the frustrations of trying to apply business intelligence in a changing environment. "The most important thing to know is that business intelligence is a work in progress," says Michael C. Lindberg, MD, chair of the medicine department, Hartford Hospital. "You can't just say, 'This is it,' and leave it alone. You have to be looking at the data all the time and making adjustments."

    An editor would never say, "I've found the right word; I'm all done now." In fact, I have never seen a writer or editor review a manuscript at any stage and not make changes. We're proud to have captured in this issue of Leadership the stories of professionals who will never stop trying to improve health care.

    Rob Fromberg is editor-in-chief, HFMA (rfromberg@hfma.org).