Blue Bell Lessons for Healthcare Practices
I live in Texas and that means Blue Bell ice cream reigns as the best ice cream in town. Made locally in Brenham, Texas (about an hour from Houston) the ice cream is loved and touted the best all over the south.
August 31, 2015 Blue Bell went back on the shelves after 4 months and millions of dollars lost because of bacteria known as Listeria was found in 10 people and 4 states causing 2 deaths. To be fair, Blue Bell went over and above CDC recommendations and closed all of their plants in 3 states and ceased production completely. Blue Bell states they did this to adhere to their company culture of best in class production processes and for a thorough examination of procedures and monitoring of procedures. They also did extensive cleaning and testing to ensure the bacteria was eliminated.
The cause of the listeria was primarily the failure of Blue Bell to follow CDC recommended (though not mandated) guidelines. The one guideline they failed to enforce was if you find listeria anywhere in the plant, check the products.
Admittedly, the complex system of detecting and tracing the listeria back to Blue Bell has been reduced to a couple of paragraphs; to make this point: Healthcare practices and facilities can learn a great deal from the Blue Bell experience.
- Don’t allow small problems to domino your practice into failure – there are many complex systems a practice manager must oversee. Small problems can easily balloon into big problems if not rooted out and resolved before real damage is done. Example: every month every practice produces monthly stats which looking back tells the revenue story for the practice. Cash flow or the lack of it due to a variety of scenarios and reasons. Most practices need much more than a once a month retrospective look back. They need daily, weekly analysis to predict what the month will look like. The first instance of abnormal should result in pro-active measures to correct before month-end averting disaster.
- Make your measurable goal to be best in class and do what is needed to conform to best in class practices. Blue Bell closed down production. Most practices will not need that drastic a measure; but it may mean a hard look at people and processes to correct the problem.
- Don’t wait until someone else has to tell you of the problem. The measures you have in place and the processes and procedures your practice incorporates into its daily schedule must be reflective of best in class recommendations even if not mandated.
- Don’t just do what the law says you have to, do what makes sense, even if it costs a little more. Remember the old commercial? “pay me now or pay me later….?” Investment in best in class now may cost, but not like failure to invest.
Lots of processes are going to change in October. ICD-10 will bring to your practice more change than has been experienced over-night in a long while. Do what your practice has to do to ensure success and revenue neutral cash flow.
It’s not too late to give us a call. If you would like to speak with someone about the changes coming up in regard to ICD-10, or even to discuss some of the processes and procedures you have in place in your healthcare organization, our contact information is below.
Lewis Garvin | Director, Business Development
850.474.8462 | 877.521.3198 | EMAIL