This story originally appeared in IHI's 2008 Annual Progress Report.
“We firmly believe in transparency here,” says John Hubbe, Vice President for Medical and Legal Services at 118-bed Delnor-Community Hospital in Geneva, Illinois. “We know we’re not perfect, and to get to higher levels of performance you have to be honest. It’s not always comfortable, but that’s a good thing.”
This is the philosophy that led to the inclusion of performance data in the hospital’s annual report. “We do very well on most measures, except for one or two, but we put those in anyway,” says Hubbe. “We want to hold ourselves accountable.”
Hubbe attributes much of this attitude to the strength of Delnor’s board of directors, and it’s why the hospital serves as an mentor hospital for “Get Boards on Board,” the only non-clinical intervention in IHI’s 5 Million Lives Campaign
“Our board is community-based. They come from all backgrounds and disciplines,” says Hubbe. “Their role is not to fix problems, but to provide the vision and promote the culture of safety, and to ensure that the organization is allocating enough resources to provide safer and better systems of care.”
Hubbe says the board is inspired by patients’ personal stories, sometimes presented by the patients themselves at board meetings. “Data can be dry, but patient stories
are powerful.” The board recently heard from an 80-year-old patient who had developed a post-surgical infection. “He told the board, ‘It was a lost summer. And when you’re 80, to lose a whole summer means an awful lot.’ That changes the dynamics.”
As for publicly sharing performance data, Hubbe says it is a leap of faith worth taking. “At first it feels uncomfortable, but trust me, it accelerates the change you can accomplish.”