Guest Columns

Losing our landmarks

Martie L. Moore, RN, MAOM, CPHQ
Martie L. Moore, RN, MAOM, CPHQ

Recently, I returned to a city that I had called home. I knew the roads like the back of my hand.  As I drove late at night in the rain, I lost my way.

My usual landmarks were gone. Buildings were torn down and new towering structures were looming in front of me. I felt uncomfortable, unsettled and lost for a brief moment.

It struck me how in today's healthcare environment our landmarks are gone. A landmark is a recognizable natural or artificial feature used for navigation, a feature that stands out from its near environment and is often visible from long distances.

Landmarks we have used in healthcare have been focused on heads in beds, payment sources and length of stay. Those landmarks are shifting and less usable as a navigation tool. The healthcare landscape is rapidly becoming unrecognizable to many who have looked for the familiar landmarks utilized for navigation, strategic planning and revenue streams.

The latest round of rules and regulations from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is a timely example of this. Many facilities are feeling shaken and overwhelmed because what they know and how they get reimbursed will be changing dramatically.

Being a leader without landmarks requires new leadership actions. One of the traits needed for navigation without familiar landmarks is courage. Fear motivates leaders to react into patterns that are familiar and comfortable. Fear is like an invisible rubber band that snaps leaders into old behaviors.

When you feel fearful of the future remember that Zig Ziglar stated, “F.E.A.R is Fabricated Evidence that Appears Real.” To build a courageous pathway for your organization, you have to have a clear vision of what you want the future to be for you and those you lead. Then you have to remove what appears to be fabricated evidence that snaps you back into usual patterns or decisions. 

I was once told by consultants that my organization would never achieve the goal of accreditation for a special designation we were actively working to achieve. They were right: The organization was not ready. It had lost sight of the usual landmarks and had to navigate through engulfing fear and doubt. It felt overwhelming and I felt paralyzed on what the next steps should be for them and those we served.

In my role as a leader, my job was to create a clear vision of what needed to be achieved. Then the team developed a pathway to achieve our goal.  Courageous leadership is about creating new landmarks for the team to utilize as they become engaged, energized and excited about the future. 

Start feeling grounded by taking the time to understand where you stand — or can improve — when it comes to quality. A great place to do that is at one or more of the provider conferences this fall. We, for example, will be one of the companies exhibiting at the American Health Care Association annual meeting and expo Monday and Tuesday, and also at the LeadingAge annual meeting Oct. 31 to Nov. 2.

It's time to think about what new landmarks you need to develop to guide you and your team into this new world of bundled payments, value based performance and healthcare of the future.

Martie Moore, RN, MAOM, CPHQ is the chief nursing officer at Medline Industries Inc. and a corporate advisory council member for the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel.

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Guest columns are written by long-term care industry experts, ranging from academics and thought leaders to administrators and CEOs.

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