“It’s against our policy”

A justification made by people who work in large health care organizations for why they can’t change how they work.

Of course, many policies exist for good reason: To protect the public, the integrity of health care professions and sustainability of organizations.

Just as likely, there are policies people try to protect so they can avoid the loss of control, effort, uncertainty and risk of failure and criticism that comes with making change.

It wouldn’t take much for primary health care organizations to offer virtual and after-hours care. It could save people the scarce resource of time, offer better access and prevent billions of dollars spent on unnecessary emergency department visits and hospitalizations. When we stop answering the phone every day at 4 pm and close our doors on Friday afternoons, we’re basically saying to people “It isn’t our problem what happens to you in the evening, on weekends and holidays”. 

If better ways of working and delivering services don’t lower health outcomes or compromise the experience of health care, why fight it?

Respecting policies is one thing. Protecting policies that made sense before the world changed is another thing.

Making things better.. that’s another thing altogether.