Healthcare lessons from 3 (more) unlikely sources

Whether it's taking a cue from Major League Baseball to improve patient experience, or looking to reality TV to turn innovative ideas into action, other industries continue to offer hospital and healthcare leaders inspiration.

In fact, as our recent coverage shows, yet again, some of the best lessons in healthcare can come from the most unlikely sources.

1. South Park

I wouldn't normally link adult animated sitcoms with patient engagement strategies, but last month, Comedy Central did just that. The TV show South Park--which features social satire coming from foul-mouthed 4th graders--offered a lesson in consumer engagement with health IT.

Instead of poking fun at the rocky roll out, the episode offered key health IT takeaways worth noting in healthcare circles, according to a Hospital Impact post from Matt Seager, a policy analyst at the Michigan Public Health Institute.

For one, the episode reinforced that when it comes to healthcare apps, knowledge is key--and that goes for providers and patients. Providers must know about their patient engagement apps. That means everyone from the receptionist to the cheif medical officer must be able to explain the features and troubleshoot problems, Seager noted.

And successul patient engagement apps need patients to know EMR systems are safe and reliable, and contain safeguards against errors, such as the misidentification of consumer information.

Healthcare leaders should tune into South Park and heed the episode's final message that "it's unrealistic to expect a large system like this to work perfectly right away." As Seager noted, they should expect slow consumer uptake, as individuals will likely wait for positive reviews from friends and family before getting on board with health apps from their hospitals or providers.

2. Elementary school

If a hospital CEO was sent back to elementary school, I'd expect him to return with better math, science and reading skills. But when Raymond Hino, CEO of California's Bear Valley Community Healthcare District, worked as principal for a day at his local elementary school, he got schooled on community health.

He saw firsthand the number of elementary school children with chronic diseases, a statistic he'd read about in his hospital's Community Health Needs Assessment, Hino wrote in a Hospital Impact blog post.

"My experience as principal for a day made our hospital's published report very real," he wrote, adding, "I began to wonder what our hospital can do to partner with our schools and our parents to improve our children's health and thereby help them to learn and grow."

Like Hino, an elementary school visit can inspire other healthcare leaders to foster wellness initiatives for students and better address community health needs.

3. Military deployment

Monday was Veterans Day, a reminder that the military has a lot it can teach healthcare. In fact, during her deployment to Iraq with the U.S. Army Reserve Medical Corps, Jacqueline Thompson, M.D., learned several lessons she applies as a civil service OB/GYN at Womack Army Medical Center in Fort Bragg, N.C., such as the importance of a cohesive team.

"Whether in a hospital or combat zone, teams must be ready for the worst scenario, and the staff needs training, knowledge and cohesion during difficult situations so they can work together," she wrote in a Hospital Impact post.

Noting the stress and chaos experienced both at hospitals and in combat zones, Thompson emphasized the need  for everyone, from  low-level personnel to administrators, to understand their role, as well as each other's strengths and weaknesses to best utilize workers.

And just as a military brigade moves and fights as one, she noted, so must a healthcare organization, with each nurse, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, doctor and administrator  working as one to improve patients' health and coworkers' attitudes.

Have you found any other unlikely sources for healthcare inspiration? Alicia (@FierceHealth)

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