So the common analogy that executives and leaders like to use these days to refer to the current health care climate is that it feels like standing with one foot on the dock and the other foot in the boat. Such a rocky predicament is likely to test our sense of professional balance and cause a few upset tummies as well.
No doubt, having one tenuous foot in tomorrow and one foot firmly planted in today is one of the trickiest business propositions imaginable. As a topper, of course, the outcome is so safe and attractive. Say, maybe, the possibility that the new untested business model eats the old profitable model for lunch. Such a deal. Who could resist?
But never fear, as we grow the new business while simultaneously dramatically improving the existing one, there will be what Big Business-type analysts refer to as a "graceful transition." Thank heavens! Why didn't someone mention this earlier? Those graceful transitions are always a piece of cake.
There is no comfort zone and it doesn't matter where you fall in the future plans pie chart. Whether you plan to be an ACO, be an ACO-like something or other, absolutely not go there, be an improved version of your old self, or just be your old self, there is no escaping the feeling that these are unsettled times. No one wants to be caught off guard. And early adopters go where others fear to tread but love to watch.
While living with uncertainty isn't a fun ride, it comes with a few "advantages" as well. In no particular order, here's a short list of things that pervasive uncertainty might make easier.
•The death of cultural inertia. Every leader knows how hard it can be to move an organization even an inch. Some folks have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Some are just plain comfortable. Others can't imagine an alternative world. But if everyone senses that change is afoot and feels off-balance, then just maybe they might be open to some suggestions or, who knows, even welcome leadership.
•Who are those people? The best of companies seem to know a lot about their customers. Amazon knows what I want even before I do and it's just one click away. My credit card company calls me if I stray beyond my profile and buy something unusual. The nature of our existing "business" is episodic. We fix them up and send them on their way. But with patient satisfaction, readmissions, medical home models and more, we will be learning much more about our patients. Everyone, well almost everyone, will see its importance and focus on the "how" rather than complaining about the "why," as we tend to do.
•New voices. Ever get tired of hearing the same voices every day? Can you predict who is going to say what? Unstable times open an opportunity for new conversations. People feel freer to criticize and propose different ideas. And that's a good thing.
Jack Welch once barked, "Change before you have to … " I would add: Use the volatile dynamics of change to make change easier.