Creating change out of fear

On September 13, the Albany College of Pharmacy and Trinity Alliance hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Collaboratory, an innovative space designed for learning and promoting health within and across the community.

The Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment Program (DSRIP) is about changing the health care system to promote health in ways that are smart, compassionate, and intuitive. One glaring question is how. How do we change? How does one individual change an organization? How about a whole system?

It’s tempting to look at the global picture and give up or assign blame for our health system’s shortcomings. In a way, you wouldn’t be wrong to do so. The problems are complex and intertwined. Many of the breakdowns are not directly in any one person’s control, and it’s easy to see gaps that occur because of a ‘bad’ process elsewhere.

So how do we begin the process and remain interested, engaged, and energized? Recognizing these tempting reactions is a reasonable start. That is, notice the reactions that say there isn’t enough time, attention, or money to make a meaningful difference, or that the power is with someone else, somewhere else. But if you believe that all people have inherent value, and we only stand to gain from unlocking and growing our collective potential, then you can look at these reactions head on and move past them.

During the ceremony, faculty spoke about when the Collaboratory was just an idea. Fear was one of the first emotions to arise. There wasn’t enough time. The space didn’t make sense and needed too much work. The task was too daunting and everyone was too busy teaching. The idea was pushed aside.

Fear, cynicism, doubt— these will inevitably rise. All of these can accumulate within any of us as we experience disappointment, hardship, and failure. But these reactions block the potential for opening, growth, and success. If we are to claim our intrinsic power and begin the incremental work toward system-level change, the key is in first identifying these barriers so we can move past the fear of disappointment, hardship, and failure. What results will be totally inspiring.

After recognizing these blocks, the next step is to consider what is in one’s own control. What is in the control of my organization? What can we do differently to improve the patient experience, streamline communication, connect with other organizations in the system, create healthy spaces, and create joy in our work? What can we do differently right here, from this small point within the larger system? Change can happen through incremental adjustments that begin in the actions of individuals. This means that transformation of the greater health care system begins with you and/or your organization. And this applies to every individual in the system, including members.

When you begin with, “I’d like to do X, but I’m afraid of Y,” acknowledge this response, then let it go. Do not make decisions based on your apprehensions. Go back to your team and think about solutions again. Think about what you contribute, what you bring to the table, what you can do for others. Remember, the others include Medicaid members, your colleagues at work, your partner organizations, and other organizations in the system.

When figuring out what you want to contribute, go to the source of value and identify your power and your own incredible abilities.

The Collaboratory was something that the College faculty thought was worth pursuing. This pushed one faculty member to meet with the head of Trinity Alliance in the space that had been bounced around as a potential location. It was right next door to dozens of Albany residents. It wasn’t pretty, but it could be fixed. There was a consensus that the goal was to be interactive and participatory community members and to have pharmacy students connect and learn the wealth of knowledge outside the College’s traditional walls. The two organizations decided to work together. With the partnership, time was made, money was raised, more people were recruited, and an idea came to fruition and has now been launched.

We can all do this. With all of us examining what we can contribute, identifying solutions, and moving forward past fear, we will collectively build a system that makes all of us healthier, wiser, more resilient and maybe even creates delight.

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