I've been railing on here about transparency as it relates to the financial crisis of late, which opens the door to pointing to today's front page of The Boston Globe. Patricia Wen's "Errors test openness at Beth Israel Deaconess: Disclosures will benefit hospital, president insists" catalogs the stuff that's gone awry at this academic medical center and the lengths its CEO-prez, Paul Levy, has taken to beam kleigs into the dark places: Wrong-side surgery, a plastic surgeon literally asleep in the operating room, the suicide of a young, apparently drug-addicted, doctor, and the horrible tragedy of the past week when a young mother died during an emergency (not elective) caesarean section (thank heavens, the baby survived).
In the interest of full disclosure, Paul's a friend and colleague whose success I celebrate, thus I am pleased to see him get this kind of coverage. But even if I didn't know him, I'd be obliged to cover today's Globe article here because it contributes to our understanding of what transparency looks like "in real." Being willing to put the mistakes out there, not exposing some while shielding others, not "PR"-ing ugly stuff in corporate double-speak. Just the facts, sir, and asking people to reflect on what this means.
Paul Levy, photo taken June 4, 2008
What's the real benefit here? It is that great intangible, trust. As Paul is quoted in the article, "Levy said he is confident the 'short-term adverse publicity' will soon be outweighed by improved patient care and greater trust within the institution." Which is what we've been writing about as regards the financial crisis on our website and here. There is no institutional health without trust - whether we're talking about the body politic or your body. Remember: the word credit comes from the Latin credere, meaning "to believe in or trust."
Paul's blog, which I've written about before (search on Running A Hospital here for more), is one vehicle he uses to drive around the 'sphere and show the rest of us what's going on inside. May the rest of you CEOs reading - and you young 'uns hoping to be someday - learn how to drive the same way. Credibly, with trust.