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Circles vs. rectangles

In my office hangs a cityscape of Montreal, with the focal point being the landmark Orange Julep. It’s unusual shape, and bright colour distinguishes itself from any other building in Montreal – or the province for that matter. To me it is symbolic of change: when everyone else is building rectangles, sometimes you have to look at things in a different way, and build a circle.

Last Friday, I was fortunate to find myself in a room filled with “circle” thinkers. Some brilliant health care minds from across North America congregated at a morning-long conference to discuss the future of healthcare delivery.

The ideas discussed didn’t focus on quick fixes, but rather long-term steps that can be taken to improve our health care and social services ecosystem for decades to come. It was aptly pointed out, that with proper organization, integration and coordination, systems flourish and benefit not only the patient, but us all.

Additionally, we looked at how to better adopt population health management into our integration strategies and support front line clinicians in aligning their practices. Those presenting weren’t just reciting their wish list, but instead were sharing the success they’ve had in building such networks, and what is required to sustain them as high reliability learning organizations.

Change, as we know, doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, dedication and a genuine desire to be better. It doesn’t come from policy change; it is far more complex than anything written on a piece of paper.

What kept coming back, competing with this notion of change, was how it’s easier to do what we’ve always done. It feels safe. Instead of accelerating improvements, one often delays them.
If we follow this methodology, we’ll end up living in a world of rectangles. Instead, let’s keep trying to build circles.

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