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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Switch by Chip & Dan Heath

I love books that inspire and encourage change and improvement, so when I learned the President of TPMG, Dr. Robert Pearl, was using some of the information in the book, "Switch", to make changes in our health care organization, I immediately wanted to read it.

The book encourages you to find "bright spots," which are places in an organization or community that are excelling where other places, departments, or organization are not.  Then, you find out what they are doing differently from everyone else and see if that process can be replicated throughout the company, organization, or community.  You then find ways to sustain the motivation so those changes continue.

Let me give you an example of how the concepts in the book "Switch" were used in our health care organization.

Our company is very big on preventing health problems and one of the preventive measures we have is to make sure every woman over 40 gets a mammogram.  If you are a woman over 50, you are supposed to have a mammogram every two years.  The company tracks, reminds, cajoles, writes letters, makes phone calls, and encourages every woman to get their mammogram and have it completed on schedule.

They started to look for the "bright spots" in the company where facilities had a higher percentage of mammogram compliance than other places. This is when I assume the magic started to happen.

One of the bright spots was a facility where they had an open door policy for mammograms; no appointment was needed. Walk-ins were welcome!  This bright spot also found that when a woman came into the doctors office, the doctor would say something like, "I see you are due for a mammogram. We can get that taken care of right now if you have time."

Many women went directly to have their mammogram right after leaving their doctors office.  The number of mammograms went up and that facility was one of those bright spots.

Soon, this model of operation was replicated in other places and the number of mammograms continued to climb.

Another facility used an additional approach to improve the number of women getting mammograms.  They had appointment clerks start to proactively call women who were due for a mammogram when they had time.  This proactive calling seemed to temporarily increase the number of mammograms, but it was difficult to sustain that momentum so the proactive number of mammograms slowly started to drop and go back to where it was before.

But someone had the brilliant idea of how they could keep the motivation going for the proactive calls to make a mammogram appointment.  They got a report that identified which women had a positive mammogram (meaning, a potential cancer) and then found out which person made that mammogram appointment. Then, they went back to the person who made the appointment and awarded her/him a button to wear on their lapel that said, "I saved a life!"

This recognition showed everyone that this person, the one who made the mammogram appointment of someone who had a positive mammogram, actually was the first step in helping to save a life!

WOW! How powerful is that? Now there was a way to help sustain the motivation to encourage staff to continue to get every woman in to have a mammogram. Staff were more committed, as well as emotionally invested, in making sure very woman had a mammogram on schedule. Who knows? One of these appointments could be someone you helped save!

Having a goal (every woman to have a mammogram), finding bright spots where something is being done well (walk-ins welcome), and then tying in the emotional encouragement to help sustain the goal ("I Saved a Life!") are all part of the little steps that can help an organizational change.

The book "Switch" has already made a difference in our organization and perhaps to many women who are now getting mammograms.  The book is easy to read and the ideas are timely. I found the concepts in the book inspiring!