Susan E. Mazer, Ph.D. Blog

Thoughts and ideas on healthcare

Hi, and welcome to my blog! I'm Susan E. Mazer -- a knowledge expert and thought leader on how the environment of care impacts the patient experience. Topics I write about include safety, satisfaction, hospital noise, nursing, care at the bedside, and much more. Subscribe below to get email notices so you won't miss any great content.

In Healthcare, the Game Never Ends

July 1, 2019

What do hospitals and baseball have in common? More than you might think.

I grew up in Detroit, Michigan with the Detroit Tigers, our amazing baseball team. The mechanics and infrastructure of baseball were easily understandable to me.

The roles of each player are clear. The pitcher’s role is to strike out the batter. The catcher’s role is to not only catch but strategically guide the pitcher. The infield manages the immediacy of the batter and ball. Yet, the outfielders have roles that are not as glorified as the infield, even though the way they influence the outcome of every game cannot be overstated.

To quote Rick Bundy, creator of theoleballgame.com,

“When an infielder makes an error, there is an outfielder behind him to hold the batter to one base. When an outfielder makes an error, in most instances it turns into two bases, sometimes three. Outfield errors are truly devastating to a defense.”

Baseball, Healthcare, and Teamwork

The game of baseball is a perfect example of the challenges of teamwork and shows how a successful ecosystem can work.

Before the players even step out onto the field, there needs to be a field to step on. But even before that, there needs to be a place to play. Which requires a stadium with all the trimmings.

That foundation encompasses both the physical elements of the game and the rules in which the game is played. The foundation and rules are there to ensure the safety of the players and the fans as well as the fairness of the game.

Once the field is constructed it needs regular maintenance. Without regular maintenance, there wouldn’t be a diamond to play on, and the safety of the players, fans, and staff could be jeopardized.

While a hospital admission is not a game, it is a pre-existing system that has its own rules, physical foundation, players, and fans. Hospital staff must ask themselves many of the same questions:

  • “Do the fans (aka patients) have to be protected from the players and the game?” Yes!
  • “Do the players (aka caregivers) need to be protected from an injury in the game?” Yes!
  • “Do fans (aka patients) need to be safe and secure?” Yes!
  • “Do the players (aka caregivers) need to be protected from injury?” Yes!

The patient experience requires even more attention to detail regarding the environment especially prior to one patient being admitted. The caregivers (nurses, physicians, techs, etc.) must continuously train their skills and at any time ask themselves, “Is my patient at risk? Is the environment safe and therapeutic? How is everyone on my team doing?”

The Experience Ecosystem & Baseball Diamonds

The Experience Ecosystem calls for consideration of what it represents. Not only is it like a baseball diamond, but its function and meaning are about life and living, recovery or not.

In baseball, maintaining the diamond is a regulated safety requirement. This maintenance is for everyone at the baseball the game. For hospitals the same is true. The ground must be carefully groomed, the staff needs to be trained, and the relationship between the patient, family, and caregivers needs to be experienced as symbiotic. With everyone carrying and owning some degree of risk to themselves and others.

Healthcare is a Team Sport

Accepting this reality is both a challenge and a reward. This can only happen when we realize that the patient, caregiver, family, and community each effect living outcomes on the life continuum.

For all of these reasons, the wholeness of an organization, its members and culture, is a health determinant. As Pat Linton, the founding CEO of North Hawaii Community Hospital, once stated, “The only difference between the patient and caregiver is acuity.”

How do you experience your place in your organization? Is everyone a team player? Are they thriving? Are you thriving? Do you feel that your colleagues have your back, that you can count on help when you need it? And, most of all, is it fun, life-enhancing, and empowering?

Unlike baseball, there is no “off-season” in healthcare, every patient’s condition and process is the “world series,” and whoever has the “ball” holds in their hands the lives of the patient and family.

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