From the Desk of Henrietta: Our Values, Our Value
How to make peace with the word "affordability"
The word “affordability” can be a lightning rod. Union members often think it is a code word for layoffs and cutbacks. They might question why it is suddenly up to them to sweat every paper towel and latex glove and wonder if higher-ups are pitching in.
Managers might wonder how in the world they are supposed to squeeze more out of their already-tight department budgets.
If everyone suits up for battle every time the word is mentioned, then progress on saving money becomes harder, if not impossible.
Luckily, at Kaiser Permanente, our values create value. After all, Henry J. Kaiser and Dr. Sidney Garfield founded KP to be an affordable (there’s that word again), high-quality health plan for working families, with incentives to keep our members healthy (rather than profit when they got sick or injured).
With the advent of the Labor Management Partnership 20 years ago, we cemented another core value: Listening to the voices of frontline workers, managers and physicians, who do the work and are closest to the patients. They know where the waste and inefficiencies are. And addressing inefficiencies goes hand in hand with improving care.
In 2005, the National Agreement negotiated by KP and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions further refined these values by laying the groundwork for unit-based teams. UBTs emphasize performance improvement and, more importantly, ensure everyone at every level of the organization has access to PI methods and tools so they can contribute.
Read this issue of Hank, and make peace with “affordability”—confident that our values create value.