I have been praised and criticized over the years for saying, “The only thing consistent about our company is our inconsistency.”

There are issues that need changing at all our facilities. Some things you cannot change, such as a policy on patient safety based on a state or federal requirement. We can accept that. What if you changed the requirement that all patients show up 30 minutes before their procedure instead of 60 minutes before? That would be nice for patients, but can staff process all that needs to be accomplished in that time?

What is wrong with changing your mind about a decision that was made earlier? I know I frustrate my own staff by constantly changing the way we interact with clients or processes. I have been accused of changing something simply for the sake of changing something. Still, the business of healthcare is not static. It demands changes and it transforms (for the most part) into something better. Complacency is not compatible with healthcare.

“When you look at things to change, the things you look at change.” Any material changes you, your hospital, or surgery center make should be thought out carefully and rely on input from sources other than yourself. If, after you have researched the issue and the change will result in a positive outcome for all, then do it. Status quo is boring and kills creativity among your staff. Some examples of changes we have made recently include:

New scrubs. The scrubs at an ASC were wearing out, drab, and boring. They contained no pockets. We recommended the board replace them. We chose to change the color, add the ASC logo to the breast pocket, add cargo pockets to the pants, and include a strip of color across the front of the top.

Saturday hours. Another facility was becoming overwhelmed with cases starting late in the afternoon. The only solution was to add a new wing to the ASC with two more ORs at an unacceptable price. Once the problem was re-examined, leaders decided to open on Saturday and Thursday evenings (even though they had vowed to never open on Saturdays). The extra shifts solved their potentially expensive-to-fix problem.

Hire per-diem staff. A facility was struggling to replace retiring staff. Still, leaders insisted on only hiring full-time employees. They realized that what worked for them 10 years ago did not work anymore. They changed their mind and hired per-diem, part-time staff members to close the gap. It worked.

These are just some examples of how changing your mind about something can produce positive outcomes. At your next staff meeting, ask everyone to come up with 10 things they would like to change at the facility that would make it work better, ease congestion, reduce cost, or increase job satisfaction. Secure consensus, and then challenge your staff to find a way to fix those 10 items by the next meeting. I am constantly amazed by the suggestions staff comes up with for seemingly daunting problems. Give it a shot.

(Earnhart & Associates is a consulting firm specializing in all aspects of outpatient surgery development and management. Earnhart & Associates can be reached at 5114 Balcones Woods Drive, Suite 307-203, Austin, TX 78759. Phone: (512) 297-7575. Fax: (512) 233-2979. Email: searnhart@earnhart.com. Web: www.earnhart.com. Instagram: Earnhart.Associates.)