Healthcare System- Dr. Peter Pronovost

On Friday, March 1st, we went to a City Club luncheon where we heard an address by Dr. Peter J. Pronovost, M.D., Ph.D., who in October of 2018 became the Chief Clinical Transformation Officer at University Hospital where he is responsible for strategic initiatives to improve value across the health system.

As his biography states, Dr. Pronovost is “a world renowned champion, critical care physician, a prolific researcher, and a global though leader, informing the United States and global health policy. His scientific work leveraging checklists to reduce catheter-related bloodstream infections has saved thousands of lives and earned him high-profile accolades, including being named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME, receiving a coveted MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” and regularly recognized as one of the most influential executives and physician executives in healthcare.”

Notably, one of the sponsors of today’s program was Alive Inside Foundation, whose mission is to “healing loneliness and disconnection, especially for our young and and our elders living with dementia. We partner with communities to connect the generations and shift our relationship with life through Music, Empathy, Education, Life Story Work, and Film.”

In the course of his speech, Dr. Pronovost contended that an actual “system” is often sadly lacking in health care administration resulting in missteps that often put the patient at risk. Instead there is a tendency for components to work in silos instead of with each other.

Therefore, he emphasized the the necessity for everyone for involved health care at all levels (i.e. from room cleaner to intake person to nurse to physician to those at executive levels) to take pride in whatever job they are performing and work together as a team that shares information with each other in order to eliminate not just reduce “preventable harm” to patients in the healthcare process and to deliver the best care possible.

Key ingredients for this prescription are humility, courage, curiosity, and compassion. Dr. Pronovost then spoke of the immense personal rewards that are possible from collaboration for a common purpose such as “micro-moments” of love between colleagues and/or patients when difficult efforts have succeeded. To be sure, one team member can generate a force that can either positively affect those around him/her or negatively affect them.

During the Q and A, an excellent example of positive alliances came from a student from Shaker Heights High School who talked about a public health project that she and her fellow students are working on. Dr. Pronovost smiled and praised the endeavor.

He also referred to a famous quote by Ms. Margaret Mead that was very much appropriate for the occasion which reads, “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. “