Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Venturing Beyond the Reef

At first blush, the new Disney movie, Moana, has nothing to do with hospice. Yet as I was watching the movie a second time with my 6 year old daughter and 8 year old son, while simultaneously thinking about my new job (multi-tasking is a part of life for a CEO/Dad), the clear parallels came into view. In Moana, a once ocean-going Polynesian island-nation has settled into a life full of abundant sunshine, unlimited coconuts, and plenty of fish. Once a nation of brave sea-farers, the community had come to fear the ocean and the risks it holds, preferring instead the safety and security of their island. Moana, the chief’s daughter and heir apparent, feels compelled to venture into the sea, beyond the reef that separates the island nation from the rest of the world.  One day, the fish are gone and the coconuts dry up. Against her father’s wishes, Moana ventures out to save her nation.

What does any of this have to do with hospice? Well, as I see it we are a community that once looked out, conquering and creating new models. On the 50th Anniversary of Dame Cicely Saunders’ founding of St. Christopher’s Hospice, and in in the 35th year of the Medicare Hospice Benefit, we must recognize how far we’ve come and how courageous and brave we’ve been. I applaud all who helped hospice thrive and grow to where it is today. But like Moana’s island, we’ve grown accustomed to what the hospice island has given us, comfortable with the model and perhaps reluctant to venture beyond the hospice reef. I think that we all know that the healthcare world is changing, as it always has, and that we need to innovate and adapt.

I want to emphasize that innovation here is not about reinventing the wheel, forgetting the past and creating new and better ideas. There’s some of that for sure, but it turns out that we have the people and the tools to do amazing things. We’ve done it before, when we had far fewer people and far fewer tools. Think of what we can do if we bring it all together.

After a few failed attempts with a little boat, Moana is given permission to use the mothballed boats of her ancestors. These boats help her get beyond the reef. Like Moana, we need to venture outside of our island, beyond the reef. Like Moana, we might get tossed into the ocean or hit by a big wave from time to time. But if we use the tools that got us to where we are – a spirit and determination that there is a better way to care for seriously and terminally ill patients – we will be able to expand our reach to provide care, earlier and BE a fully integrated model. We need to give ourselves permission to be a little uncomfortable, to venture beyond our reef and move toward a brighter and sustained future.

If we do this right, we will ensure that hospice won’t be an island, but will instead be a much larger and more integrated part of the world. In fact, our future rests upon this notion. Most importantly, the health care needs of our patients depend on it.

By Edo Banach, JD
President and CEO

1 comment:

Celeste said...

Thank you for this!! I too have watched the movie several times with my grandchildren and love it and I can see the correlation you draw. I began the hospice adventure myself over 30 years ago, felt the excitement of beginning something new and important. At this point, having felt many of the big waves of recent years, your words of encouragement ring for me. Glad to have you on board as Captain of NHPCO. Celeste Eld, Executive Director, Hospice of Eastern Idaho