U. S. Healthcare Costs Highest in the World


American health care operates with levels of unreliability, injury, waste and just plain poor service that long ago became absolutely unacceptable in many other industries. ~ Dr. Donald M. Berwick, President, and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Healthcare in the U.S. is unwell. Hospital mistakes kill an estimated 98,000annually  making it the third leading cause of death in the United States. Healthcare costs per capita are the highest in the world and yet results place the US 16th in longevity in a recent NPR report.  

It’s not only patients that suffer. According to a ComPsych a national provider of employee assistance, “Healthcare employees placed the highest percentage of calls for stress and anxiety by industry, at 11.2 percent. Juggling work and personal life prompted many of the calls, with 18 percent reporting that as their reason for seeking guidance.” 

The healer may be the problem.

“The clinician operating in isolation is now seen as undesirable in healthcare—alone ranger, a cowboy, an individual who works long and hard to provide the care needed, but who’s dependence on solitary resources and perspective may put the patient at risk” 

Getting better matters. The people receiving care, in addition to being patients are beloved parents, children, siblings, and/or spouses. Everyone recovering from an illness or injury seeks a full recovery. Healthcare that holistically supports patients and their families realize higher patient compliance, (i.e. better outcomes) happier practioners and, positive reputations. Research on customer experiences constantly reinforces that good experiences are shared, bad ones are broadcast. 

Excellent healthcare is a team sport. The complexity of modern medicine in the information age is daunting. By joining forces and combining resources leading healthcare professionals are beginning to recognize that all of are smarter than any of us. Some benefits linked to the team approach are: “reducing medical errors, improving quality of patient care, addressing workload issues, building cohesion and reducing burnout of healthcare professionals.” 

Building aTeam. Great teams don’t spontaneously happen. Initially, coordination and cooperation between members are founded on trust and communication. Building a high-performing team requires intention and attention: to the people, the relationships, and most importantly, the goals. A good team without goals is a party—everyone’s having fun but not much gets accomplished. At the center of the healthcare team is the patient. Patient-centered care does more than advocate for the patient in involves them in their care.

Team-based Healthcare Fundamentals

Key Principles

Shared Values

  • Shared Goals
  • Clear Roles
  • Mutual Trust
  • Effective Communication
  • Measurable processes and outcomes
  • Honesty
  • Discipline
  • Creativity
  • Humility
  • Curiosity

Getting started. Any improvement process starts with assessing your current situation. Understanding patient satisfaction and staff engagement are great beginnings. There are surveys are available or go “old school” and have 1:1 conversations. Find out what is working and what is not. Pick one to three opportunities and begin. Here’s the best part—involve your team in seeking and implementing solutions. It starts the ball rolling and increases teamwork skills together.


Peter Gunby MA has over 30 years’ experience as an operations manager andinternal consultant. He has hands-on experience working with teams andentrepreneurs developing systems and processes that support the customerexperience and leverage employee engagement as a competitive advantage. Peter is an Associate with Moementum, Inc. www.moementum.com


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