Allina Health System executives must feel as if they are living in a "Rocky" movie.
Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch has been pummeling Allina and its Medica managed-care plan. The Hatch attacks and the struggling Allina integration strategy have prompted the system to announce it will split Medica and its hospital operations by year-end (July 30, p. 4).
Meanwhile, Hatch is detailing dubious Medica spending. A recent report outlines how Medica spent $56 million in three years on consultants connected with its former chief operating officer. The report quotes ex-Medica executives as saying the services included conferences at which they were required to play games such as ring toss or watch movies such as "Twelve Angry Men" to learn about group dynamics.
This may be a trifle unfair. American businesses waste billions annually on consultants, gurus and motivational speakers, many of whom are peddling psychobabble and management mush. And if people see some value in having a corporate revivalist lead employees in ring toss, maybe it's worth a few bucks.
But anything near $56 million for movies such as "Twelve Angry Men" is a rip-off. You can get that and other classic flicks at a neighborhood video store for $2, and it's a five-night rental! Public libraries offer them free for a week or more.
Let us suggest some inexpensive movies that are more relevant to the problems facing Allina and the healthcare industry. Pick up some refreshments, and you can stage a conference for a lot less than $56 million.
* "Apollo 13." Using teamwork and smart thinking, three astronauts and NASA survive a high-flying disaster. Allina managers may find this especially inspiring right now.
* "The Bridge on the River Kwai." A British officer and POW through pride and stubbornness becomes obsessed with his captors' project and realizes too late that he brilliantly achieved the wrong objective. Good for any executive.
* "The Doctor" and "Lorenzo's Oil." Films that show healthcare from the patients' viewpoint.
* "The Hospital." What writer Paddy Chayefksy did for television in the movie "Network," he did for healthcare in this 1971 classic. George C. Scott plays the burned-out, suicidal chief of medicine at a large urban hospital beset by bureaucracy, indifferent staffers, community protesters, a greedy surgeon heavily into the corporate practice of medicine, and a psycho who is killing doctors and nurses. In the end, Scott and the chief administrator abandon their plans to flee the hospital because, as Scott says, "Someone's got to be responsible."
See you at the video store.