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Helping 100,000 people is a good start

Dr. Don Berwick

Dr. Don Berwick is a pediatrician and a true hero of modern healthcare improvement. Author and management expert Tom Peters calls him the “Mother Teresa of health safety.”

Berwick is one of the founders of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and is the architect of its groundbreaking 100,000 Lives Campaign. In December 2004, he brazenly announced a plan for saving 100,000 lives over the next 18 months. The plan challenged hospitals to make six simple changes in care to prevent avoidable deaths and it was a huge success – saving a projected 122,000 lives in its initial phase.

To give you a better idea of Berwick’s brilliance, here’s an excerpt from his speech that launched
the 100,000 Lives campaign and inspired thousands of healthcare providers to join in this pursuit:

“The names of the patients whose lives we save can never be known. Our contribution will be what did not happen to them. And, though they are unknown, we will know that mothers and fathers are at graduations and weddings they would have missed, and that grandchildren will know grandparents they might never have known, and holidays will be taken, and work completed, and books read, and symphonies heard, and gardens tended that, without our work, would never have been.”

I had the chance to see Berwick speak recently at a gathering of healthcare professionals and he’s still inspiring the healthcare industry with his eloquent, humorous, and impassioned plea for excellence and improvement. What struck me most about his speech and presentation was how he was still promoting a common sense approach to solving some very complex problems.

For the healthcare industry, Berwick has created a clear, noble and moving vision for reducing pain and suffering and extending life. But what about those of us who don’t work in healthcare? How can we positively affect the lives of 100,000?

Having a goal, in any industry, of helping 100,000 people is a refreshing way of reframing what you do. Community bankers provide capital and services to thousands of companies which fund thousands of jobs. Higher education institutions, and those companies that serve them, facilitate training and education for millions each year. Financial services professionals help tens of millions of individuals, families, and companies preserve and protect monetary assets that become the homes, gardens, weddings, and holidays mentioned by Dr. Berwick above.

Saving lives, or at the very least, having a positive impact on 100,000 lives is within reach for any of us, on any day.

Take a page from Dr. Berwick’s playbook:  small adjustments in outlook and care can deliver big changes in essential outcomes.

Have a great week.

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