Hospital CEO Chat Part 2: The Power of the System Aim

“A system is a network of interdependent components that work together to try to accomplish the aim of the system. A system must have an aim. Without an aim, there is no system. The aim of the system must be clear to everyone in the system.” – Dr. W. Edwards Deming

CEOChat2-ThePowerOfTheSystemAimDeming introduced principles of market analysis, production efficiency and reliable quality that helped Japan evolve into a global economic and manufacturing powerhouse following WWII. Toyota adopted many of Deming’s ideas into the Toyota Production System, the benchmark model for efficiency and foundation for many of the Lean and Six Sigma tools and concepts used in healthcare and other industries today. We have adapted many of the same continuous improvement methods and processes in our Hospital Operating System.

Dr. W. Edwards Deming in the 1950s (photo from Deming Institute)

The system aim Deming speaks of serves as a powerful cornerstone for successful logistical models. It is remarkable to see our partner hospitals unify and rally around a concise, elegant system aim across the entire organization. It provides the correct perspective for any hospital employee at any time when faced with a question of “what is the right thing for me to do next” to best serve the patients and the hospital. So we asked five CEOs:

What is your hospital’s System Aim, and how has it helped focus a positive change in culture?

Daniel P. Moen, President and CEO Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, Mass. He stands in front of the hospital’s system aim: “Together, doing the right thing, the right way, every day for every patient.”

Daniel Moen, Mercy Medical Center. System aim: “Together, doing the right thing, the right way, every day for every patient”: “Our system aim is very important to us here at Sisters of Providence Health System. It’s ‘Together doing the right thing, the right way, every day for every patient.’ So we’re really trying to get to a zero-defect mentality, to have every patient reaction be appropriate from a clinical and a human point of view, and we’ve been able to make great progress in those areas over the last several months.

When you come to Mercy Medical Center, you’re going to see our system aim in every unit, on every wall, because it really is something we believe in. And the staff have really rallied around this cause, because they’re all here to do a good job taking care of patients, and so anything that lets them do that in a better way reduces some of the difficulties of providing a great patient care. It allows them to provide more time at the bedside for patients. Those are good things, so the staff have really embraced this. They want to live it every day, and they really do that.”

Peter Selman

Peter Selman, President and CEO, Baptist Medical Center South, Montgomery, Ala.

Peter Selman, Baptist Medical Center South. System aim: “Patients first, compassionate care, pursuing perfection”: “Our system aim at Baptist Medical Center South of ‘Patients first, compassionate care, pursuing perfection’ is not that different than I think a lot of organizations might select as an organizational aim. You have to make a distinction between your aim and your mission statement, they’re actually quite different. But I think a lot of organizations would acknowledge that, yeah, patients first, we’re a patient-centric organization and that’s why we’re here, that’s why we exist, and that’s what your mission statement accomplishes. And compassionate care fits very well I think with our faith-based ministry at Baptist Health.

But I think the third part, the pursuing perfection, is the element that all healthcare organizations have really been striving for, particularly over the last 12 to 15 years, when we recognized that we’re not as perfect as we thought, in that variability in our organizations, in our industry, harms patients, and that variability also harms our bottom line. That’s where Care Logistics is such a great partner for us, because [the logistical control system] comes in with very disciplined, standard operating procedures so that we can hard-wire those processes in our organization, and that’s what we’ve been able to do. So, from that standpoint, that’s where [the] pursuing perfection part of our organizational aim becomes so important.”

Dr. Ann Errichetti

Dr. Ann Errichetti, CEO, St. Peter’s Hospital, Albany, N.Y.

Dr. Ann Errichetti, St. Peter’s Hospital. System aim: “Partnering for excellence, achieving the extraordinary”: “The conversation here at Saint Peter’s really has changed in the last year to year and a half. We actually we don’t talk as much about the length of stay as we might have a year ago. We talk about progressing patient’s care. That’s something that everybody gets, understands and wants. Whether it be our staff, whether it be physicians, whether it be patients and their families, they can all grasp that concept, and what’s particularly exciting for me at this point in time is that we’re now extending the conversation into patient satisfaction, into quality, into patient safety. That’s exciting, that’s our why, and that’s why we come to work every single day: to make things better for our patients and their families.”

Dr. Patrick Taylor

Dr. Patrick Taylor, CEO, Holy Cross Hospital, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Dr. Patrick Taylor, Holy Cross Hospital. System aim: “Because iCare, no errors, no delays”: “Our system aim is ‘Because iCare, no errors, no delays.’ When you look at the “no errors, no delays,” again, it goes back to the ‘mother tes’” for us. If your loved one was in the hospital, you certainly would want no mistakes made, and you’d want no delays in their care, so it again it takes it down to the patient level for us that every associate who interacts with the patient or any customer can quickly understand and grasp what we’re trying to achieve.


Steve Scogna, President and CEO, Northwest Community Hospital near Chicago

Steve Scogna, President and CEO, Northwest Community Hospital near Chicago

Steve Scogna, Northwest Community Hospital. System aim: “Partnering to achieve exceptional outcomes – Every patient, every time”:  It’s interesting, NCH has embraced the aim in a fashion like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and I think the main reason is because it’s all about the patient. The focus of what we’re trying to get accomplished is patient-centered, and whenever you get caregivers and you want to make changes and it’s all about the patient, there couldn’t be a better way to incent people.

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