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  • Susan Snedaker

Achieving Excellence Through the Mundane

Every day in healthcare IT, we are challenged to do our work better, cheaper, faster, more securely. It can be daunting to face an ever-growing "to do" list. At the same time, we do know we need to constantly improve and evolve.

A recent article on excellence reminded me again that "perfection is the enemy of the good" - meaning that we can become paralyzed by striving for perfection, and we are often lead to believe that "good" is not good enough.

In healthcare IT, keeping systems up and running, maintaining security, improving applications, and improving usability are products of the everyday work we do, not some grand magical scheme that will suddenly cure all the problems.

In American society, we are constantly bombarded with marketing images and messages that there are easy or magical fixes for everything - make your laundry, your diet, your finances, your relationships, your job, your car, your house, your pet, your children, your parents....better with this EASY solution or WITH THIS THING YOU CAN BUY that will rally the magical forces of life to your cause!

The truth is grittier than that. We have to show up, go through a short list of routine activities, make sure we are attending to the basics every single day. That's how results are generated. We know that.

The football team doesn't win by wishing, they win by practicing effectively.

The heavy-set man doesn't get thinner by watching motivational YouTube videos, he does so by eating less and moving more.

The debt-ridden college graduate doesn't get back on her financial feet by reading about others who magically came up with a brilliant business idea and implemented it (aka Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, you name it), she does so by paying off her debt and living within her means.

The IT infrastructure doesn't get more reliable by a manager berating the nearest network engineer, it does so by the leader gathering facts about failures and understanding what steps should be undertaken to improve reliability.

You get the point.

Healthcare IT doesn't get better because we hire a smarter systems engineer or buy better applications (though sometimes bad applications do need to be replaced...) - HIT gets better because we pay attention to the fundamentals every single day.

  • Daily work.

  • Standardized work.

  • Checklists.

  • Written and trained procedures.

  • Scheduled patching.

  • Root cause analysis.

  • Project plans and project reviews.

  • [Add your items here....]

When you look at your team or your department, are you counting on EASY or MAGIC to save the day or do you have a PLAN that you're working?

Strive for excellence by attending to the mundane and you'll look back in a year or two and be surprised by your progress. There's nothing magical about that, but it might seem so to anyone outside of the team who doesn't see the grit of the daily work being accomplished well.

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