“Real artists ship.” — Steve Jobs, 1983

I’ve heard many people lament (me being one) the amount of time it takes to do things in healthcare. “Do things” being a simplified attempt to define the decisions made on a daily basis to keep the doors open and improve the delivery of care.

There are likely real and perceived reasons for this reality. But the boldest reason, in my opinion, is the, at times, outright refusal by healthcare people to make decisions. It seems barriers like information, politics, fear, conservatism, and inexperience (among others to be sure) mount to grind “do things” to a halt.

It’s a terrible situation. Because the healthcare delivery world is ripe for a whole lot of “do things” to make it better. But the spillover effect of the need to be perfect in our clinical care to the business side prevents “doings” from occurring. Our desire to be perfect in all we do drastically slows us down. We need to learn how to “ship” without perfection. That will mean “shipping” “doings” without feedback from every single person, without complete information, introducing ourselves to the surprisingly comfortable concept of risk taking, and not checking with our incestuous healthcare friends for how they may have solved a problem in a previous setting.

Read why Matt Mullenweg finds it more important to ship early and often than to wait for perfection. 

Though this is likely far from the first pondering of said problem, it’s time to start doing something about it (all word play fully intended). Some may consider it folly to push forward without understanding the reasons for why we struggle so mightily. But I don’t think it matters much. Our continued lack of action will be far more painful than the repercussions or unintended consequences of doing.

Here it is.

In an industry obsessed with measurement, we ought to start measuring “time to doing thing.” Record the date of observation when an improvement or a change or an update is needed. Then note the date when “thing” is completed. The time measured should be in weeks, not months.

The hospital [Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok] goes well beyond quality benchmarks in its industry, and owes that to continuous and constant process improvements on a range of metrics including recovery rates, time to recovery, length of stay, and other patient satisfaction criteria.

Can Lean Co-Exist With Innovation?

Does your hospital measure any non-standard experience-representing metrics?

Like it or not, online health information–regardless of its accuracy–likely will supplant doctors as the primary source of health information as consumers grow more eHealth savvy.


Generally this is a good thing–as long as the information being found online is the right information. The majority of individuals don’t see a doctor that often and when they do, it’s usually for just a couple of minutes. People will be more engaged in their health if they have better access to information.