By Greg Hunter, RT (R) (T)
Beth Boynton, RN, MS
The demand to significantly improve patient outcomes in various healthcare settings is always present. Process improvement initiatives have also evolved over the years in an effort to catch up with changing times. However, like an athlete running on a high-speed treadmill, most process improvement strategies, seem never enough to reach the targets we have aspired to for decades. This scenario has set the stage for ‘Moonshots’ as we call it in healthcare.
What is a Moonshot?
In a rather logical way of explaining moonshot, ‘shoot for the moon’ means targeting a lofty and overly ambitious goal. It is a term adapted from the Apollo 13 space mission. In the early 1900’s, the idea of humans setting foot on the moon seemed farfetched, if not impossible. It was like a child’s fantasy shooting an arrow up in the sky and believing that somehow in time, the arrow will eventually reach the moon.
However, in 1969, humans actually made their first steps on the moon. What started out as a farfetched idea “moonshot thinking”, became a reality because of the will to succeed, years of hard work and learning from countless failed experiments. Looking at this at a much bigger scale, other great inventions like smart phones, airplanes and MRI machines have been the result of moonshot thinking and effort.
Moonshots in healthcare
Similarly, in healthcare it is useful to develop a moonshot mindset when attacking the status quo in patient care or difficult diseases. This kind of thinking can be very positive and inspirational and isn’t bounded by profitability in the near term. Moonshot thinking can be a driving force that propels you to move forward after failure.
Recently, there has been a move to accomplish great feats in healthcare; things that we all wanted so badly but seem fictional to experience in the real world. Examples of moonshots in healthcare are the following:
1. Ending cancer
Cancer has been man’s enemy since the earliest of times, claiming many lives each year. In the year 2015, it was estimated that 589,430 people lost their lives to cancer in the US alone. The direct medical cost incurred by cancer care was $88.7 billion in 2011. Although survival rates have improved over the years, ending all forms of cancer has yet to be achieved and some say it will never be achieved.
The collaborative initiatives to win the battle against cancer are now focusing on combination immunotherapy as opposed to traditional methods of such as chemotherapy and radiation. This new focus on treatment relies mostly on the power of the immune system, specifically the natural killer cells, to destroy cancer cells. The goal is to cure cancer totally, or at least to have cancer patients survive the disease and thrive with the best possible health.
2. Longevity Moonshot
This moonshot aims to extend and enhance life by at least 50 years past the current life expectancy.. Aging is a major factor in the development of many diseases and by extending aging in a healthy way it is felt that we can prevent many age-related diseases. There are currently new initiatives focused on the use of genomics and state-of- the-art technology to change the way medicine is practiced. Living to more than a hundred years old would then be the norm of the future. This is indeed a moonshot.
3. Zero cost healthcare and access to healthcare by billions
Reading this moonshot, we are already thinking ‘unfathomable and impossible’. In 2013 alone, healthcare spending reached a staggering $3.0 trillion, or $9,500 per person. And while Americans have a relatively high percentage of people with access to healthcare (87.9%), about 1.3 billion people all over the world have no access to effective and affordable healthcare. This effort is like turning the globe upside down. Is this even doable? We may not have definite answers at present, but with positive and innovative thinking, the future may become promising.
4. Deconstruct chronic diseases
The leading cause of death and disability globally is chronic disease. Chronic diseases are continually on the rise and they choose no geographical location or socioeconomic class to afflict. 60% of deaths and 43% of global burden of disease are due to major chronic diseases. This moonshot seems implausible but continuous efforts that are highly collaborative and heroic to deconstruct chronic diseases even in the simplest of settings will eventually lead to its realization.
Organization Transformation, a Moonshot?
Setting the stage for moonshot thinking and initiative in your organization is a daunting task. It can be a moonshot in itself. Is your organization optimized to take on moonshots or are they overwhelmed and distracted by administrative tasks? These activities are important to your healthcare organization however can consume your staff’s valuable time, so there is no time left to work on moonshot activities. ManageUP has had direct experience in this area and that is why we developed a platform to streamline and automate your day-to- day tasks, improve collaboration and teamwork, and workplace culture.