The old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is not only dated, it’s inaccurate.
By donalee Moulton
Illustration by Martin Bregman
“Things don’t have to be broken to be enhanced or improved,” says Gerry Delli Quadri, client relationship director at Willis Towers Watson. “Remember that what got you to this stage won’t necessarily get you to the next stage. You need continuous improvement to add more value to the patient and to your business.”
Such ongoing improvements come from doing – or thinking – in new ways. Challenging the status quo is essential. “We often need to change the way we look at things and interpret the world around us,” says Delli Quadri. “When we challenge the status quo, we are also challenging our own thinking.”
Delli Quadri points out that we all have inherent psychological biases that predispose us to interpret information in a way that confirms our existing world view. “As a pharmacist, if our model works well enough, we may determine no change is necessary. But it is wiser to be proactive and initiate change from a position of strength than to react to circumstances that demand we change.”
Being able to step outside the status quo – so patients, staff, and the business benefit – requires shifting your mindset. “The basis of any change is self-awareness,” stresses Delli Quadri. “You need to be open enough to challenge long-held assumptions and beliefs.”
Decision-making, whether it is in business or any other sphere of life, is shaped by an individual’s biases. “When you rely on your sixth sense and make a hasty or snap decision that turns out to be ill-informed, then your biases which may have been helpful in the past can turn into thinking traps,” he notes. “You need to be able to recognize these so-called potential thinking traps and challenge them by allowing sober second thought. Look for the root cause of a problem. You need to be able to play devil’s advocate with yourself and others.”
Accepting that change is valuable and that more of the same old, same old is not going to benefit patients, the profession or your business, does not mean turning your work world on its head. “Incremental and fractional change adds up over time. You don’t need to boil the ocean; change happens one bucket at a time,” says Delli Quadri. “The rate and pace of change are at your discretion.”
The appointment-based model, in place in more than 23 U.S. chains and 2,000 independent pharmacies, and now making its way to Canada, is an example of successfully challenging the status quo. “It is added value that can be missed under the current model,” says Delli Quadri. “Patients essentially have a trusted advisor. That translates into people getting better.”
As a first step en route to incremental change, Delli Quadri recommends creating a work environment that welcomes innovative ideas and allows for the removal of unnecessary processes and red tape. Clearly delineate and communicate your goals, then set realistic objectives to meet them, and lastly reward the right behaviours, he advises. “As the pharmacist and a leader in the profession, you play a key role,” says Delli Quadri. “Make it clear that challenging the status quo is not just accepted, it is welcomed and expected.”
Pharmacists who challenge the expected, the ordinary and the everyday will discover their role expands – and their satisfaction increases. Their patients are also healthier and happier. At the same time, effective change means an enhanced reputation for the profession and an improved bottom line for the business.
“Ultimately, when you discover more about the patient’s needs, they become consumers of more than a medical refill,” says Delli Quadri. “They come back for more. They talk about the pharmacy. It opens the door to other opportunities.”