Levy Tells Hospitalists to Focus on Values—Not Health Reform Debate

Janice Simmons, April 12, 2010

While healthcare reform is fresh in everyone's mind, it might be helpful to step back and "ignore what is going on in Washington—to ignore the healthcare reform bill, to ignore all the fuss about it," Paul Levy, president and CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, told 2,500 attendees at the annual Society of Hospital Medicine meeting on Friday.

Now is the time, instead, "to focus on the underlying values that you each have individually and that you have collectively as to why you became doctors in the first place," he said. "You became doctors because you are intensely caring people, intensely well-intentioned people, who want to alleviate human suffering caused by disease. That is the most noble calling in the world," he added.

"If you find yourself distracted by administrative and other matters, and by the politics of it, I'm afraid it will get you frustrated and just angry. If instead, you focus on why you were there in the first place—and frame all the issues you're working on in terms of those underlying values," he said. These are the same values shared by "the nurses, the respiratory therapists, and everyone else in the hospital."

"We're so lucky to work in this environment," he said. "We're surrounded by nice, well-intentioned people. If we focus of that, do the things we're really good at, be not afraid of being transparent with regard to the results—and in fact viewing transparency as an adjunct to the entire process and a way to holding ourselves accountable to the standard that we believe in, I think we'll be intensely successful."

The good is if we do that, "we're also going to be successful as our little portion of society—in terms of providing higher quality care and bending that cost curve because that's where the real savings are going to occur: when we do our job better and better, we drive waste out of the system," he said. "It's as simple as that and as hard as that."

Janice Simmons Janice Simmons is a senior editor and Washington, DC, correspondent for HealthLeaders Media Online. She can be reached at jsimmons@healthleadersmedia.com.
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