Are you ready to fail?

By NCQA on July 15, 2015 in Speaker Profiles

This blog is the first of an ongoing series featuring spotlights on speakers at this year’s Quality Talks. Interested in attending? Register today.

QT-Speakers-7That’s the challenge you may hear from one of our featured speakers at Quality Talks 2015. Grace Terrell, MD, President and CEO of Cornerstone Health Care contends that making mistakes is the core of innovation. And the flexibility to adjust is the better half of the equation for a practice transforming to patient-centered medical care.

When providers embody the willful spirit to fail, she says, they embark on a journey of teachable moments and put “learning labs” in practice.

“What we really are more than anything else is a learning lab,” Terrell said in a recent interview. “We’re learning how to do a better job.” The idea is to use quality data to problem solve and, along the way, design new models of patient-centered care. Terrell says that is the approach at the more than 90 practices in central North Carolina that make up Cornerstone Health Care.

“Our team worked with data analytics to quantify what the potential impact would be if [we] redesigned a care model around it,” she explained. “Followed by rapid implementation of these care models.”

There were missteps along the way. But identifying opportunities for improvement and responding quickly to the missteps led to Cornerstone’s remarkable success transforming from volume-based care to patient-centered value-based care.

It’s a simple concept, but almost counter-intuitive in quality improvement. Health care organizations must be willing to fail and stand ready to respond. And they must be ready to respond on the front lines. “A lot of this is organically coming out of doctors’ ideas,” Terrell said.

Now is the time, she adds. The system doesn’t have decades to wait for the health care culture to change. She advises practices to adopt the “start-up” culture modeled after Silicon Valley’s technology sector. Build front-line processes loosely. Allow more flexibility for complex care patients.

Terrell clearly believes the ground is soft for planting the seeds of innovation. To use another cliché’, there is a lot of low-hanging fruit. She’s likely to challenge her Quality Talks audience to take advantage.

“This should be extremely exciting for those that are at the beginning of the careers,” she says. “What the next generation of health care can do is really accelerate this focus in a different way on the patient.”

That different focus includes a willingness to try new things and occasionally fail, but also a willingness to respond with new ideas and new ways to solve those problems.

Quality Talks
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