Motivating through Measurement Recap

Last week, Bottom Line attended MN Community Measurement’s 2015 Annual Seminar – Motivating through Measurement. It was a day full of engaged discussion and learning regarding health care quality and patient satisfaction improvement. 

Here are some of our key takeaways from the conference:

  • Use your power to advocate change. Healthcare leaders (and those forming public policy) should leverage their power and use data to form strategies that address determinants of health to solve large problems and build a comprehensive approach to community health.
  • Cooperation among states is key. With each state having its own set of healthcare quality metrics, alignment across the country is challenging. However, the experts believe collaboration among states is the only solution for improving the health of our nation.
  • Patient experience data drives physician behavior. Online doctor and hospital reviews are becoming more and more common, and we know patients are using them when making care decisions. These anecdotal ratings, even more so than quantitative metrics, help physicians understand what they do well and what they should improve on.
  • Data and health care measurement is the future catalyst of improving health equity. Using voluntary patient data, like race, preferred language and country of origin, systems found significant health inequities exist in Minnesota. Next steps include additional analyses, reporting trends over time and partnering with other organizations to eliminate variation by population.
  • Data for data’s sake isn’t as helpful as using data to spur action. Many healthcare leaders have now been measuring data for a decade or more. While it’s important to continue expanding and deepening data sets, it’s even more important to start addressing the issues data has brought to light and put our new knowledge to use for tangible good for healthcare consumers. That is the call going forward!

Interested in learning more? Check out the hashtag #mncm2015 on Twitter to see what others had to say about the conference. 

Engaged in Making the Business Successful

My topic this week is about owning and operating a small business, something I’ve done for the past 20-plus years. As I pondered my approach, I kept coming back to the fact that relationships are the key to running any successful business; small, medium or large.

Some wise person once said that if you want to know where a company is now, look at its financials. If you want to know where a company will be in five to 10 years, look at the quality of its people and the quality of its relationships with customers and other strategic audiences.

So much of our engagement with customers and others of importance takes place online these days. However, we should never forget the power of in-person, face-to-face communications. While smart organizations obviously are monitoring, adapting and tackling the latest and greatest in digital communications with a vengeance, we all need to be bullish on creating ongoing opportunities with customers and other important audiences to interact with them in person. Research continues to reinforce the fact that being in the same room with key stakeholders and having eyeball-to-eyeball dialogue is still by far the most effective way to communicate with them.

With digital options becoming easier and more intuitive, it is easy to fall in the habit of relying on them exclusively. Sometimes, it is easier and more efficient to text, tweet or post a comment, but it’s rarely as positively influential as a “real” conversation. True, meaningful and consistent engagement, whether in person or not, is at the very core of building real connections, which lead to long-term relationships with customers and other key stakeholders.

As Jack Welch said: “There are three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about an organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction and cash flow.” How do you measure up?

- Jeffrey Remsik, President and CEO

Why Some Projects Go Better Than Others

Project management is all about balancing the big picture with the day-in, day-out details. Rather than being at odds, seamless navigation between those two ends of the project spectrum are what enable both solid strategic and tactical results. To get better results on your next project, consider adopting these ideas.

  1. Develop a detailed plan. A lot of people think they have a plan in their head, but if they tried to put it on paper, they’d realize it wasn’t as complete as they thought. Make sure the plan defines the strategic objectives, identifies the right team, details the specific steps needed to complete the project, states associated deadlines, sets milestones, names deliverables and outlines a clear budget.
  2. Gain agreement on the plan. Confirm that all stakeholders understand the plan and agree it’s the right plan. Then, confirm that each person understands his/her role. For an agency like Bottom Line, where our team partners closely with a client team, this step is essential for gaining feedback and approvals, and completing tasks on time.
  3. Use the plan to guide daily work. Translating the plan into some kind of tracking mechanism is essential. The good news is that it can take many forms, from a simple list to spreadsheets, to a visual tracking board, a whiteboard, or an online project management tool. The key is to set an expectation that team members understand assignments, and track and report in on their progress.
  4. Use the plan to maintain strategic focus. In the crush of meeting deadlines and actually getting work done, continually reference the project’s strategic objectives. Developing a marketing communication plan, a website, or a social media campaign, for example, requires continuous alignment of content and messages with photos and graphics to ensure brand support.
  5. Communicate frequently about the status of the plan. Call forward challenges, unexpected developments and next steps. Surprises, inflexibility, gaps in understanding, lack of awareness, and scope creep are usually the result of communication failures. Whether it’s a weekly update meeting, regular conference calls, or personal check-ins with team members, nothing beats a conversation.

Want your next project to be better than the last? Understand both the big picture and the details, get everything into a plan, and use the plan to propel forward motion every step of the way. Wondering what to do when the plan doesn’t live up to expectations, or the process fails along the way? That’s my next blog.

 - Beth Fredrickson, Senior PR Counselor

Staying Focused During the Holidays

Time flies during the summer. We are already in the second week of September and Labor Day is in our rear-view mirror, and in essence, summer. The return to work after a holiday weekend can make people very scatter brained — I do believe this is a technical medical term. Even the lead up to the holiday weekend can cause scatter brain to occur up to two days prior or more. The question is, how do we focus on the tasks at hand?

Here are some tips to stay focused pre and post-holiday, or anytime work gets hectic.

  1. Become Zen — When you arrive to work, before you get out of your car close your eyes and just breathe. Calm your brain. Forget about all the work that needs to get done. These few moments can prepare you mentally for your day. It also gets you into a much calmer state of mind and keeps you from feeling rushed.
  2. Focus your plan — When you sit down at your desk compile a list of everything that needs to be done today, tomorrow, this week, and finally, what needs to be done next week. Ordering your to-do list in this manner will help you prioritize your work. Once you have the work prioritized, you will feel much better about how your day is going to proceed from this point. Why? Because you have the start of a plan. And everybody loves it when a plan comes together.
  3. Disconnect from social media — The biggest deterrent to remaining focused is social media. I swear social media is capable of time travel. You start looking and while it only feels like five minutes, in fact you have been searching “Epic Fails” on YouTube for more than an hour. It is really an evil time traveling tool that only takes you into the future and benefits nobody, especially you or your client.
  4. Turn on some music — Background noise can be very distracting, i.e. construction and car alarms. The right background noise can be very helpful. According to a study by the Wake Forest School of Medicine and the University of North Carolina, listening to music you like helps you focus on your own thoughts and tasks.
  5. Take short breaks — Every now and then you will get stuck in a rut. Don’t just sit there and stare at your monitor hoping a miracle occurs and everything magically appears on the screen. Walk around and stretch. This helps in two ways; it will get you a little daily exercise and it can kick start your brain.

By using these five tips you can remain focused on important tasks. Your holidays or vacations will be that much more enjoyable knowing you have finished those projects.