My Great American Adventure – Work and culture in the third week

I can’t believe this is the start of my third week here in Boston. The time is going by so quickly; I guess the old adage about time flying when you’re having a good time must be true.

Last week went by in a heartbeat, meeting new people and finally getting to grips with some of the work I can help with here. The areas that have been identified are mentoring, staff recruitment and leading a workshop on diversity, in them not too taxing but of course it’s important that I make a good account of myself and in doing so leave a good impression of people from the NHS and Leadership Academy particularly. The IHI are keen to learn from our experiences on diversity in the UK and I will do my best to help.  The people here are incredibly gracious and very accepting of advice and support. The outcome from this trip for me is to support the IHI to make a difference in terms of their diversity and inclusion strategy whilst learning as much as I can in order to bring new ideas and processes back to the UK.  I’m learning so much, it is a privilege to see how another organisation works, their ethos and values. The IHI and the NHS are very similar in that they have objectives which aim to improve care for patients, regardless of their background.   It does this by supporting healthcare professionals improve the quality of care for patients, through improvement methodology. To date the organisation has been incredibly successful in sharing its knowledge and tools across the globe, its triple aim initiative is very similar to our work on QIPP. Triple aim stands for:

  • Improving the experience of care –providing care that is effective, safe and reliable – to every patient every time
  • Improving the health of a population, reaching out to communities and organisations, focusing on prevention and wellness, managing chronic conditions and so forth
  • Decreasing per capita costs

Enacting the triple aim means reaching out to communities and improving overall care in populations and also looking at and understanding the cost of treatment. Triple aim is about improving care in an effective efficient cost effective way.

I am not only learning about the IHI and the work environment, I’m learning about the culture here in New England and, by association, the USA. On the whole, Americans are very positive people, friendly and open. I have numerous examples of the kindness that has been shown to me since I’ve been here, I can honestly say that I have not felt out of place or awkward in any situation because of my racial background. Examples of this are the shop keeper that gave a packet of cleaning clothes from her cupboard because I couldn’t find a shop to buy them, the taxi driver that turned off his meter when he got stuck in traffic so that the fare wouldn’t be too high, the couple from Colorado that kindly took me out to lunch after meeting me (and no doubt feeling sorry for me) after a couple of hours on a boat to watch the Whales (this is a MUST DO activity by the way, it was awesome). This kindness doesn’t just extend to me; it seems that people here are kind to each other and to their animals, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many pampered pooches in one place, they even have special dog parks for small dogs and big dogs. There are dogs of every shape and size everywhere. To get someone to like you, just say to their dog, ‘hi buddy, how ya doing?’ Bostonians love their city and have a sense of pride in it. It’s clean, friendly and open. I was astounded to see the conductor on the train, get off the train with a blind man and walk him across the street. This niceness and genuine kindness to each other led me to think about why it is that people pick up after themselves, (the city is litter free) don’t graffiti the walls and don’t trash their city. My theory is, and it is only a theory, is that it’s the weather, if not that, it’s got to be something in the water. I am told I am here at the best time of the year, the fall (autumn to us) but even though there’s a chill in the air the sky is blue and the sun shines. If it rains for a day you know the next day will be bright and sunny. It genuinely makes you feel better, getting up in the dark to grey and cold days does not do much for one’s mood! However, that said, I love England and all that it stands for and at the end of my 6 weeks I’ll be glad to come home. I might even bring a bit of ‘Americaness’ with me and smile and say good morning to the old grump that mans the gate at Northwood Hills underground station!