Problems in Disguise: Gifts from the Pandemic
Randy Van Straten, Envision Board member and VP, Business & Community Health, Bellin Health
“What we have before us are some breathtaking opportunities disguised as insoluble problems,” said John W. Gardner, former United States Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. This quotation aligns perfectly with my experiences in health care over these past three-plus years after completing the strategic foresight training program. This program helped me identify signals and trends by scanning the horizon, which then helped picture the most probable future – a chance to turn those insoluble problems into rich opportunities for Bellin Health.
Sometimes, timing is everything: Having completed the strategic foresight training and then heading straight into COVID-19 really helped when approaching some of the biggest health care challenges we have faced in our lifetime. As I set up my Google alerts during this time, the information flew in; this helped guide new contacts and innovative approaches to COVID-19 safety, testing, and vaccinations. One primary example was the opportunity to participate in the Global Mass Vaccination Site Collaborative through Harvard. This led to guidance on important community breakthroughs in the fight against COVID-19. We learned to partner with employers, the Green Bay Packers, and the Brown County Health Department to deliver what our community needed: onsite COVID-19 testing at large employers; a drive-through testing and vaccination site in a former Sears Automotive Center; converting the Lambeau Field atrium into the largest vaccination site in the region; and repurposing a city bus into a mobile vaccination clinic to reach individuals in all areas of our community.
Another success we achieved through “scanning the horizon” was creating Bellin’s Early Intervention Ergonomic and Rehab service. This program totally flips the old way of providing rehabilitative physical and occupational services only after a referral or surgery is completed by a medical provider. This Early Intervention and Rehab service is now offered directly to employees onsite or nearby and delivers hands-on care to individuals after only one or two days of onset of musculoskeletal issues without a referral, providing a 94-percent resolution rate with only six percent needing to go on to see a medical doctor. This solution has reduced high-cost imaging volumes, surgery volumes, and medical costs over the last two years.
Lastly, and the new opportunity I am most excited about, was the design of a mobile medical screening truck and trailer that will provide onsite audiometric services, pulmonary and respiratory exams, and medical services to employers and community groups. This new rig will arrive at Bellin Health in late spring. Thanks to our scanning, we’ve been able to create and design a new service that will help elevate the health of the employees at our employer partners, big and small, city or rural, in a way that helps our employers provide safe and convenient services to their employees at work while creating production efficiency for the employers in a tight labor market.
Now that Bellin Health has trained a few leaders and committed to scanning the horizon faithfully, I offer this advice to the community: Do not hesitate to get signed up for the next Strategic Foresight Training Session. After completing the training, you will have an immediate impact on your organization and find those key drivers of change that will determine which alternative futures your organization needs to take. With this knowledge, you will more effectively plan your actions to influence your organization’s future rather than only react to problems. And as John W. Gardner says, take some insoluble problems and move them into breathtaking opportunities. See you in the future!