Greater Good

Posted Monday, February 11, 2013 by Scott Good in General

I just saw a headline that Pope Benedict XVI is resigning. I am not Catholic but being an “armchair researcher” of the development of early religious institutions, I find his resignation particularly interesting.  The previous time that a pope resigned was about 600 years ago to help resolve the “Great Schism” between the papacy established in Rome and the one in Avignon, France. Without going into a lot of detail, I prefer to stay at about 30,000 feet. To me, regardless of any other factors, the pope who resigned in 1417 (Gregory XII), probably did so for the greater good of the church – most likely, as Benedict is also doing.

So why talk about this on a Crescendo blog? Well, it’s like this … More and more, we are seeing people do difficult things for the right reasons, and this gives me hope. We all know that the face of healthcare is changing (and probably education, soon too – but that will be in a future blog). Increasingly, physicians, payers, healthcare educators, and affiliated community groups are working together to improve patient care, enhance patient experiences, and better manage costs. These decisions to collaborate are difficult because they often threaten revenue streams or channels of power. 

So are people making decisions like these because they are serving the greater good or because they realize that if they do not do so, they may be increasingly vulnerable to future changes?  In the pope’s case, I say that it is for the greater good of people. Perhaps he feels that his body is no longer able to complete the tasks hat his heart desires (or something like this). In the healthcare world, I think that initially the impetus was more of the “avoiding future consequences” persuasion than it is now. In addition to many other things, Crescendo works with hospitals and community groups to complete their Community Health Needs Assessments; we are also leading national efforts to establish benchmarking and collaboration among leading behavioral health institutions. Both of these activities require parties to “go where they have never gone before” and work with other organizations – that, in some cases are competitors – to accomplish a goal. Groups like the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (www.ihi.org) are doing great work to help organization like these work together in a patient-centric way that also supports participating organizations.

Does this mean that there really is a way to recognize organizational goals while focusing on a greater good? Yes! No equivocating. The challenge will be to get comfortable doing things differently and thinking differently. Change requires risk, and it can be a little scary. But maybe the old way of doing things was its own barrier. Doing things a new way and working with same-thinking partners eliminates some old barriers. The new ways may have their own challenges, but working collaboratively, groups may be better positioned to meet common goals and better serve the greater good.

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