Friday, October 28, 2016


It is very difficult, in a large complex organization, to make sure that everyone knows what is actually happening. At GBMC, we have many ways to communicate, but none of them are perfect. We communicate by word of mouth from manager to employee down the chain of command; we send email newsletters; we invite people to lunch meetings; we put information on the Infoweb; we use social media and many other methods. But I am still amazed at how little our people know about some of the things that I know, and how little I know, about some of the important things that are confronting our people. Sometimes people know very well what is going on in their unit or department but have no idea or are misinformed about things going on in other parts of our system.

I recall discussing this communication difficulty with Dr. Don Berwick, one of my mentors and someone who I have learned so much from. Dr. Berwick began the “triple aim” movement some years ago. This movement has been very successful at creating better health outcomes and better care experience at lower cost but most Americans don’t know that the movement even exists.  I remember telling him how few healthcare workers know what the triple aim is.  I ask this question at every employee orientation, mostly comprised of people who have worked in healthcare in other organizations, and most of them have never heard of this movement.   So, when I told Dr. Berwick how bothered I was about this, he responded that it was because we are in an “echo chamber.” Meaning that everyone runs in circles with the same people and we begin to believe that what we know and discuss is what the average person knows. Instead, we think this because we are speaking directly with a small group of people and we are reinforcing each other’s knowledge.  Unfortunately, the conversation is not getting out to the people who are not “in the room” with us.

The Epic implementation has been raising this issue of how to communicate well. If you are in a department where things are going smoothly, you believe that they are going well everywhere. If you are in an area that is still challenged, you assume that this is the case throughout the system. The true message about Epic is that on the whole, the implementation has gone very, very well. Very few companies have gone live with such a broad scope of applications all at once and accomplished what we have. But in some areas, like our physician practices, because the data conversion from our old system to Epic could not progress without major human intervention, we are still challenged to get the job of patient care done without a lot of data entry, verification, and rework. We are fixing this and I believe that in a few weeks all areas will be operating smoothly and will be ready to begin optimizing the system to help us get to our vision faster.

TOP DOCS 2016!
I am pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Melissa Sparrow, our first female chief of staff and medical director of Emergency and Inpatient Pediatrics, as the physician cover of this year’s Baltimore Magazine Top Docs issue. This recognition is truly an indication of Dr. Sparrow’s clinical expertise and leadership.

For 30 years, the magazine has annually recognized the excellence of the region’s physicians. Each year, we eagerly await the edition’s release to see how many of our accomplished doctors are chosen for their talent and compassion by their peers. I am certain that the entire GBMC family will agree that Dr. Sparrow serves as an excellent representative of the many other GBMC physicians who are recognized within the pages of the issue.

I would also like to commend Dr. Neal Friedlander, chairman of the Department of Medicine, who was selected to be one of only seven doctors profiled in the issue, chosen from more than 680 doctors who were nominated for the honor.

Please join me in congratulating both Dr. Sparrow and Dr. Friedlander for their achievements as well as all others who are named 2016 Top Docs.

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