(above photo via Nitch.com)
This week the greatest mind of several generations passed away, Stephen Hawking.
I have always been a huge fan of Stephen Hawking and have read a majority of his books (link here), some of his papers (papers here) listened to several of his lectures (videos here), and have a running list of his quotes (quotes here).
One of my favorite quotes from Stephen Hawking is pictured below:
“Be curious. And how difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.” ~Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking was the living example of this belief.
Here was a man that was diagnosed with a debilitating motor neuron disease known to us as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gerhig’s Disease. Stephen Hawking was diagnosed at the age of 21 and was told he had 2 years to live. He was confined to a wheelchair until he died last week at the age of 76.
Despite the life-altering diagnosis, a debilitating physical disease, being confined to a wheelchair, and losing his ability to speak without the help of a computer-generated voice, Stephen Hawking still became the greatest mind of our time.
He lived, laughed, and loved.
Healthcare must remember the story of Stephen Hawking.
Often we get bogged down by the inefficient processes and workflows inside healthcare.
We whine about relative value units and productivity.
The difficulty to acquire preauthorizations.
The obscenity in sharing data, having a unified record and making it accessible to patients.
We play the blame game that medical technology companies, EMR/EHR Vendors, and Government Agencies have forced us to make decisions that make us less efficient, take us away from patient care, and increase clinical/physician burnout.
We use the rules and regulations set forth by the Regulators as an excuse to run and hide.
Our greatest minds have been diminished to a workforce that follows the rules, raises their hands, colors within the lines, and measures their value in productivity instead of the lives they have touched.
We too often look down at our devices during work, conferences, meetings, and in our spare time. We have become acclimated to a Pavlovian response to the rings, dings, pings and other things.
As healthcare leaders, both physicians and non-physicians, we need to remember the privilege of proximity that we have in viewing our stars each and every day. The person, the people, the community, and the patient(s) that entrust us with their lives.
A patient life is our star.
The multiple patients we see over a day, a month and a year are the stars we get to observe, discover, name and learn. Our careers are nothing more than a galaxy made up of many stars, or more specifically, the patients we serve.
As leaders in healthcare, we must remain curious.
We must ask the difficult questions. We need to have constructive conflict. We can no longer nod in silent acceptance without first discussing in an open forum the impacts of our decisions. We cannot throw our hands up and say it is too difficult, too hard, too complex, too inefficient, too tedious, or too time-consuming.
We must not accept NO’s, CANT’s, DONT’s or WON’T’s.
We must lead with “I like this, and I wish that…”
We must lead with “….and?”
We must lead with a curiosity in the greater context of how the universe around us works. Not merely healthcare, but the multiple dimensions of our lives.
As we become more intimate in the other universes that envelop us, we can begin to connect those dimensions into the reality of what patients want: health AND care.
We must be curious in our discovery and pursuit of health AND care.
We need to be in awe of the stars we encounter each and every day.
We can never give up.
Care matters at the N of 1.
As always feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter and Instagram as CancerGeek