Monday 11 April 2011

Success Story - Alaska Peer Assist

Here's an excellent success story on Peer Assist, told here by Kent Greenes

"I recently facilitated a peer assist for a health care provider in Alaska whose aim was to develop a capital business plan that would gain approval from budget holders outside Alaska to renew aging facilities and grow capability for long-term health care. A preliminary version of the plan had met resistance from these decision makers; the Alaska team was told to go back to the drawing board and develop a plan that required significantly less investment. The team had been working for months at reducing the cost and had gotten to a point where they exhausted what they knew and the knowledge they were able to get their hands on. They called me in to plan and facilitate a peer assist.

After calls with potential peers from the provider's operations in Washington and Oregon, we held the peer assist in Anchorage with the home team and eight visiting peers. The peers openly shared the lessons they learned from developing capital plans for long-term-care facilities in their regions. It was clear by early afternoon on the first day of the peer assist that their advice to the Alaska team was to reduce their capital plan by remodeling and repairing existing facilities.

The Alaska team insisted that their environment and customer needs were different from those in the northwestern United States and remodeling wouldn't provide the long-term care needed to attract, serve, and retain potential Alaskan customers. Later that afternoon (and planned as part of the session) the peers visited several long-term-care facilities. The experience made all the difference in the world. The visitors now understood the Alaskan context for long-term care and changed their advice. They felt new facilities were warranted in Alaska and spent the second day of the session developing new options and approaches for capital-plan submission with the home peers.

One of their recommendations was to perform a new survey of the aging population in the region. The peer from the Oregon provider operations had recently done something similar and offered a set of questions and a survey approach that were geared to providing design input for the development of long-term-care facilities. On the spot, the peers modified the design of the survey to address the Alaskan environment, native Alaskan culture, and other unique aspects of the aging customer base in that region.

The session led to a breakthrough in the Alaska team's thinking and capital plan. Not only was their plan approved, but the visiting peers benefited from the experience as well. An e-mail received by the Alaska team leader reinforced this: "Thank you again for the wonderful opportunity to work together last week. I really applaud your willingness to hear new ideas and your dedicated commitment to the people you serve. Kent, you taught us a new appreciation for the power of coming together to harness our collective knowledge to fulfill our mission. It was an enlightening two days for me, and I am very grateful for the experience."

Many of the peers who came together for those two days continue to communicate and collaborate on a routine basis".

Good job, Kent!

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