Elegant healthcare

Earlier in my career I had a very strong pull toward efficiency. I have never liked 'flappers'. Those people who spend the day running around telling everybody how busy they are. Continuing to work after hours and wearing it as a badge of honour. In my mind that always reflected poor planning. A lack of ability to manage their time. I placed greater value on colleagues who could achieve their outcomes and still manage to have a lunch break and leave on time. Or if they stayed late it was because of a last minute request that they were taking responsibility for.

As I've gained more life experience (I'd say matured, but I'm not ready for that yet) I've continued to value efficiency, but I've begun to understand that there's more to it than that. Efficiency alone can be a bit soleless. Take lean thinking in healthcare for example. Sure, it's great in theory and can be successfully applied in the right context. But if the environment is not right, it can become more about technical process than patient care.

This morning as I was listening to Cal Fussman interview Tim Ferris, I realised what that other bit is. Well, he told me, I didn't exactly realise. It's elegance. Efficiency gets the process and technical details right, but elegance adds the artistry. In writing it might be the flow between ideas. In jazz the space between the notes.

This ties in with other things that I've been learning about in the world of resilient healthcare. They talk about balancing efficiency with thoroughness. The efficiency thoroughness tradeoff. Knowing which parts of the process require deeper consideration, more time and thought. Knowing which parts can be more superficially addressed. Knowing when to pause and listen. Knowing when to assert yourself confidently. Clinicians who can nail this are demonstrating a mastery level of skill. They are providing elegant healthcare.