Our organization has an informal climbing team made up of administrators and clinicians who tackle a couple of summits each year. We have lofty aspirations—the ultimate goal is to climb six of the "Seven Summits." Self-funded, the team's previous climbs have included Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Rainier, Pikes Peak, Mount Massive and Longs Peak.
In preparation for the upcoming snow-and-ice climbs of Denali, Elbrus and Aconcagua, we selected Rainier as a practice run.
On the first day, we learned related skills: how to handle new tools (ice axe and crampons), survive avalanches, and to be mindful of crevasses—visible and invisible. To reach the summit, we'd have to face these dangers; therefore, we took actions to minimize exposure and risk.
What is the cry of every healthcare organization that's looking to climb to new heights?
"Improve quality!" That's a no-brainer. "Enhance patient safety!" Of course. "Bend the cost curve!" How? Our country continues spending billions on healthcare information technology. Between the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, we will spend billions more. So how do we maximize these investments so we can accelerate IT adoption toward its intended peak?
One technique for success is clear, yet not pervasively embraced: engaging clinicians. We talk about it, even appoint a figurehead or two, but do we push far enough? No. Rather, we end up falling into crevasses. These chasms (e.g., clinician buy-in, CPOE adoption, CDS compliance) are mere distractions in some cases, but in others, they're fatal to the mission of the organization. To reach the mountaintop, we need to close the gap between technologists and clinicians.