The phrase ‘pay attention’ is fitting for health care leaders. Managers have a limited amount of attention that they can allocate. There is only so much capacity to think deeply of the important problems like, what do their patients value, and how do we design work so that it is productive, effective and meaningful?
Have you ever tried to answer a difficult question, perhaps one your child is asking, when you are in the middle of preparing dinner for a large group? We don’t even try and might hear ourselves say ‘not now’. We have a limited capacity to tackle what is important, and doing so means carving out time to pay deeper attention.
Fundamentally improving a patient care service, for example, needs intense management focus and deep thought. You can’t do this while constantly being distracted with today’s crisis such as lack of staff, management turnover, report writing and changing priorities. It’s like passing a car on a two-lane road while checking your email.
As a health care leader you need to find time to become blind to the plethora of easy fix distractions that arise every day. It might mean protecting a part of your day, or protecting a part of your management team. Only by mobilizing more deeper thought, by ‘paying attention’, can health care organizations lay the tracks for patient care improvement.