We are living and serving in extraordinary times. Many of us reflect privately or aloud with our colleagues about the incredible ambiguity of what is often referred to as the healthcare system. Unfortunately, our national debate is fixed on ideology caught up in election-time politics.  Although, I don’t find the notion of duality to be particularly beneficial in any context, it seems, for the time being, we find ourselves locked in a never-ending battle of Red versus Blue.

The astonishing shifts in healthcare today have incredible impact on our personal and professional lives. How do we navigate the growing ambiguity and uncertainty, which is decidedly stressful, and still find the motivation to serve in a way that is compassionate and with attention on human dignity and quality of life?

Setting aside the polarized macro discussions about the right course of action to lower cost, ensure quality and expand access to patient care, perhaps we can find hope by reflecting on the kinds of change we can make in our own organizations. How well are we working together to combine the knowledge and expertise of professionals in coordinated, team-based patient care? Are we unconsciously or consciously sustaining old paradigms or fundamental beliefs, which no longer fit today? Are we fully awake to the need to develop our talents and skills as life-long learners to neutralize the effects of the half-life of knowledge in a rapidly changing society? Perhaps the ultimate challenge ahead, what active steps are we taking within our organizations to bring forth the Institute of Medicine’s convincing vision of healthcare as a continuous learning system?

Anthony Weeks, visual storyteller, illustrator & filmmaker, illustrated numerous graphics detailing the outcome and processes of the 2014 Leadership Summit.

Anthony Weeks, visual storyteller, illustrator & filmmaker, illustrated numerous graphics detailing the outcome and processes of the 2014 Leadership Summit.

Sensing the significance of the Institute of Medicine’s report “Best Care at Lower Cost: the Path to Continuous Learning Healthcare in America”, Doug Beigel, Richard Cross and I began to think about what might happen if we would bring together thought leaders who were adding their value in many different settings within the healthcare system. After considering the idea for a few weeks and speaking with several members of the COLA Board, we decided to do it. Thirty-four leaders joined us in beautiful San Francisco for a multi-disciplinary dialogue in search of the true value of laboratory medicine and the implications of the IOM report to our work. Many of us left the Summit with a much greater appreciation of the complexity of the context as well as the opportunity to work together on concrete examples of change. In a quote by Margaret Meade we were reminded that; “we are all absolutely unique just like everyone else.”

Out of our place of effort in the Summit, the Lab Testing Matters initiative was born. The purpose of Lab Testing Matters is to create opportunities for learning, visioning and acting with others to support quality in laboratory medicine and to create greater understanding of the true value of laboratory medicine to patient care. The Lab Testing Matters Initiative is for professionals who care about quality and want to learn. It is for people who role model their quality ideals in everything they do, and as such, are an inspiration to others. 

About The Author

Chief Innovation Officer, COLA

Ms. Zinsmeister has dedicated two decades of her life to COLA’s mission serving in a variety of roles both as a staff member and external advisor. While working for the American Society for Internal Medicine in the early 90’s, Ms. Zinsmeister became an expert in the federal CLIA law and regulations. In 1993, she joined COLA to launch the first Government Relations Office. For nearly eight years, she guided COLA’s deeming efforts at the national and state levels. Between 2001 and 2012, Ms. Zinsmeister was the Chief Operating Officer of an international consulting company focused on advising executives, leaders and change agents involved in organizational changing processes. During this time, she co-authored the book Transformational Leadership: Creating Organizations of Meaning. In 2013, she co-founded a highly innovative Dutch-American education institute – Conscio | Leading by Learning -- for professionals pursuing virtuosity and a learning point of view of leadership, quality and change. Ms. Zinsmeister combines her multi-disciplinary background to create inspiring, relevant and meaningful educational experiences for life-long learners. Encouraged by the recent work of the Institute of Medicine on Healthcare as a Learning System and seeing the opportunity for COLA to be a part of this new paradigm, Ms. Zinsmeister is delighted to serve as Chief Innovation Officer. She and her team will be working to innovate COLA’s value proposition related to our educational, consulting and accrediting services. Ms. Zinsmeister received her Bachelors of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus in economics and political science in 1986 from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She is also Certified as a Professional in Managed Care by the American Academy of Healthcare Management.