The Human-Centered Health Blog

AVA: March 2023


AVA: Ask Vic Anything


What can health systems do to extend their “cash runway?” 

Vic: This was the most common question last month. Like most things in life, the answer is easy for me to write but hard to do.  Health systems must identify new sources of cash or cut expenses. I’ve found sharing and networking with other leadership teams to be the best source of ideas. 


My team is worn out and yet working over capacity. We need help fast. Any suggestions that we can implement quickly?

Vic: “Embrace the Suck” – This is an approach adapted from the US Marines. It is honest and raw, referring to all the undesirable conditions, stressful experiences, and difficult situations our bedside staff faces daily. It helps by acknowledging the situation as it is. 


Leaders often try to ignore hardships. By leaning into reality and talking honestly about the Suck, we shift the dynamic. The team is not asked to deny or ignore their circumstances. Instead, they are encouraged to embrace it together for the benefit of patients. Often this simple act helps people feel heard and less lonely. 


How can we elevate the nurse when they are too busy with the existing workload?

Vic: Perhaps counterintuitive, but nurses I know joined the profession to become empathic patient caregivers.  Yes, they are busy, but we must provide tools to remove data entry and other administrative tasks, thereby freeing time for them to utilize their compassionate listening skills and broad healthcare experience directly with patients.


Can Health Systems get financial relief from CMS or some other reimbursement change? 

Vic: Yes & No. I don’t expect any help to ride in on a white horse from the US government – sorry. However, Health Systems should move quickly to build an internal health plan and take control of your own reimbursement.  You can start small by working directly with one or two employers in your region. 


Got a question? 

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