Healthcare Systems Process Improvement 2016
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Q&A with Karen Martin

Karen Martin is president of The Karen Martin Group Inc. She will be giving her keynote presentation at the Healthcare Systems Process Improvement Conference on Feb. 23 at 9 a.m. 

What is the most pervasive issue or challenge in health systems management today?

Historically, the healthcare industry has been plagued with "this is the way we’ve always done it" thinking. Thankfully many health systems are moving the needle in adopting the mindsets and behaviors – the management and operational habits – that create outstanding organizations. But there are many others who haven’t even begun to make substantive changes to how they operate. And even those who are making good progress need to make more of it and faster. The time is now to shed old thinking and replace it with four fundamental behaviors that lead to "oustandingness": clarity, focus, discipline and engagement across the entire organization.

Briefly describe the roles process improvement and health systems engineering play in your work at The Karen Martin Group?

We work with all industries, but, because I have such a long history in healthcare, we continue to work with healthcare organizations of all types and sizes in all stages of transformation. Most clients want to approach "transformation" initially with a focus on process design. At that stage, we are typically working alongside industrial engineers, quality professionals, et cetera, to help get early results. But the moment the organization recognizes that process design alone doesn’t produce significant performance gains, we begin working with senior leaders to help them develop the mindsets, behaviors and perspective that enable the deep cultural changes that are necessary to experience true transformation.

What do you plan to discuss in your keynote presentation?

My keynote, which is based on my book The Outstanding Organization, will help attendees learn how to recognize the self-inflicted chaos their organization creates on its own. I also cover the key management engineering practices that are needed to reduce that chaos so that the organization can better cope with externally produced chaos and create the bandwidth for making substantive improvement. Only 20 percent of organizations who attempt a particular improvement methodology experience lasting success with it. My talk will address how to significantly increase the attendees’ chances for successful transformation.

What would you like attendees to take away from your presentation?

First of all, hope. Work doesn’t have to be as hard as we make it, and there is indeed hope on the horizon. Through a systematic approach to healing the organization – similar to how a healthcare provider approaches a patient’s illness – healthcare systems not only can survive the rapidly changing world within which they exist, but actually thrive in that environment. The second take-away is knowledge. Attendees will be armed with a short list of "countermeasures" they can introduce to their organization to begin or accelerate the healing process, no matter which stage of transformation they're in.

For more information about Martin and the other conference keynote speaker, go to the Keynote Speakers Web page.