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A New Acronym in Iowa: ACOs

David P. Lind BenchmarkRecently, my interactions with the health care system have been up close and personal. I can tell you that my wife and I have experienced great frustration when seeking coordinated care for our daughter in recent months, both in and out of the hospital.

Having to reconstruct her medical history over and over and over for each new health care provider has been discouraging, annoying, and frankly, unnecessary. If you’ve been there, you know what I mean.

Lack of coordination between different health care providers for the same patient is a major concern in this country. Not only is it incredibly frustrating to the patient and family members, it’s potentially dangerous and very costly due to inefficiencies and duplication of services.

Your insurance premiums, by the way, are adversely affected by this current delivery of care.

What about ACOs

Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are the latest trendy model for delivering health care services by doctors and hospitals.

In a nutshell, an ACO is a network of doctors and hospitals who share responsibility for providing care to their patients.

Sounds good to me! However, I recently read that ACOs are being compared to the elusive unicorn: everyone seems to know what it looks like, but no one has actually seen one.

Imbedded in the massive new health law, ACOs were allotted only seven pages of provisions, but they’re causing a tremendous amount of interest with many stakeholders (patients being one!).

The intent of an ACO is to bring together the different aspects of care for the patient— primary care, specialists, hospitals, home care, etc.—and make providers jointly accountable for the health care of their patients.

Through the new health law, financial incentives will be given to providers to cooperate and save money by avoiding unnecessary tests and procedures. To do this, they must seamlessly share a patient’s medical information between themselves. So instead of the patient and family members having to educate each provider on the medical history, the ACO team would have all information at their fingertips.

Personally, I hope that ACOs (or something like them) become the “new normal” in our delivery system. It cannot come soon enough for this parent!

To learn more about the Final Regulations for ACOs, click here.

What Iowa Employees REALLY Want

David P. Lind BenchmarkRaises? Vacations? Insurance? Ever asked your employees what’s important to them? You might be surprised.

In 2007, our firm undertook the Iowa Employment Values Study©. This study illustrates many opportunities for executives to improve employee satisfaction, even in tough times, with a limited budget.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Aretha nailed it. Being appreciated and valued is the number one workplace value for employees.

Question: “What is the one main thing your organization could do better?”

The consistent answer:  “Show appreciation for hard work.”

The cost: Better communication.

Employees want their employers to open channels of communication and recognize (acknowledge) hard workers. The study revealed that having better communication within the organization is essential to employees’ overall positive perceptions of their jobs.

High-quality communication improves virtually every aspect of employee opinion, our research found, and employers should provide plenty of opportunities for meaningful feedback from employees.

The payback: Employees who know they’re valued are proud of their organization and are significantly more positive about ALL aspects of their job.

Employees value RESPECT and ACHIEVEMENT most at work versus what their bosses think they value most. Other than the two top values, bosses clearly underestimated the order and importance of each workplace value.

Here’s the disturbing trend:  Bosses consistently underestimate the importance of a well-rounded lifestyle to their employees.

These workplace values describe organizational culture. Creating and maintaining a positive culture is the DNA of any successful organization. Understanding what employees really want is key to a positive work environment and loyalty among your workforce. What values are strongly reflected in your organization?

Iowa as Healthiest State…What a BHAG!

David P. Lind BenchmarkYup, making Iowa the healthiest state in the nation in five years is a Big Hairy Audacious Goal!

You know. The kind of visionary goal Jim Collins and Jerry Porras were thinking of when they coined that term in 1994*. Something so strategic and compelling that it’s a game changer.

For sure, the new Healthiest State Initiative is a BHAG. We are currently ranked 16 among all 50 states according to the 2011 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index®, so although we are above average, we’ve got a ways to go to take the top spot.

Can we get there?

Well, that depends on you, and me, and your employees—on all of us making a whole lot of small changes that add up.

That’s what The Blue Zones Project™ is about—helping us achieve this BHAG— community by community, business by business—helping us become more like those Blue Zone communities around the world, where people live longer, healthier, more productive lives.

How?

  • All Iowa towns have the opportunity to become Blue Zones through a competitive application process.
  • Ten towns will be selected to receive direct access to national experts in transforming themselves into a Blue Zone Community™.
  • Businesses can adopt changes whether they’re in a Blue Zone or not.

As an Iowa employer, what’s in it for you?

  1. Healthy employees mean more productive (and happier) employees who will positively affect your organization now and into the future.
  2. Having healthy employees, both physically and mentally, is a competitive advantage.
  3. The bottom line—lower medical costs translate into lower insurance costs.

Sure, I know, it’s easy to be cynical about yet another healthy living initiative, especially one with such lofty goals. Really, you may be thinking, we can’t change our habits so much that we will become the healthiest state in the nation.

But the truth is, Iowa will be better off by pursuing such a BHAG. We can achieve it if we really want to!

*Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, written by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, 1994