Blog | Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mission statements and the physician compact

There is a lot of stuff written in the business literature about “corporate statements” and the role they can play in guiding strategic decisions. When done right, I think these foundational documents can be quite effective. Does anyone doubt that Walmart really does focus its efforts every day on its stated mission of “saving people money so they can live better”? While it is easy to get caught up in the distinctions among different types of statements, I like the hierarchy that was outlined in a paper in the Harvard Business Review (April 2008). In it, David Collis and Michael Rukstad offered the following definitions:
• Mission: why we exist,
• Values: what we believe in and how we will behave,
• Vision: what we want to be,
• Strategy: what our competitive game plan will be, and
• Balanced Scorecard: how we will monitor and implement that plan

By this taxonomy, our medical group has just redefined our values. We did so by developing and affirming a new “Physician Compact.”

The idea of a physician compact is not new, and we reviewed several from other institutions. Many of them were written in a contractual or transactional form (see, for example, this one from Virginia Mason Medical Center. We chose instead to formulate ours as a statement of what we believe in and how we want to act toward each other and our patients, the precise definition of a value statement offered by Collis and Rukstad.

We will be working to assure that this does not become a “document on a shelf” but instead a set of principles that guides behavior and forms the foundation for mutual accountability. To that end, we have asked all of our North Shore-LIJ Medical Group Physicians to join their colleagues in upholding the compact by adding their names to our Pledge Wall. I am proud of what we have put on paper, and excited about making this a reality.

What do you think?

Ira S. Nash, MD, FACP, is the senior vice president and executive director of the North Shore-LIJ Medical Group, and a professor of Cardiology and Population Health at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Diseases and was in the private practice of cardiology before joining the full-time faculty of Massachusetts General Hospital. He then held a number of senior positions at Mount Sinai Medical Center prior to joining North Shore-LIJ. He is married with two daughters and enjoys cars, reading biographies and histories, and following his favorite baseball team, the New York Yankees, when not practicing medicine. This post originally appeared at his blog, Ausculation.