A Culture of Fun
Health Catalyst has a unique culture… of fun! Bobbi says Tom is often referred to as Chief Fun Officer.
The different games Tom has created to simulate client’s working environment in a new way is how he garnered this title. By approaching their field from a new perspective, clients learn something new about healthcare.
Tom discovered the power of this approach through some research on adult learning, conducted by Duke University. According to this study, people only retain about 5% of the material they are fed in a typical learning environment. Transforming the environment to an interactive discussion improves that percentage.
Tom tries to incorporate outcomes improvement analytics cost management principles into these games, the latest of which is called Spectrum. This particular strategy game helps organizations understand that there is a whole range of improvement that can happen based on the effort invested.
Alternating between playing the game, talking, discussing the learning principles and repeating this cycle engages the creative and logical parts of the brain for a powerful, interactive experience.
“They do things in the game that parallel what they do in real life in departments. Oftentimes there is conflict between departments. They’re arguing over resources and in the game. Then I point out: look what you did: you’re actually playing these cards that say things like “use data as a weapon” or “misrepresent data” and those are not best behaviors… and they really don’t move the ball forward on outcomes improvement,” says Tom.
This helps organizations (the players) to connect and reflect on their real-life behaviors and mistakes in a non-threatening setting.
Focused on Allocation of Resources
There’s a tendency to hoard and not share resources. However, when you share resources, the collective improvement that you can achieve as a system increases. The “Spectrum” game is collaborative rather than competitive to illustrate this message.
For example, variation occurs across all departments, patients, and locations based on preferences, resources, and a plethora of variables. In the first race, players can create their plane according to their own rules and design. The results fall all over the map. In the second race, players follow a clear directive to create the same model. Their results immediately leap to a better place.
Through the simplicity of a paper airplane contest, the costly nature of variation quickly becomes a recognizable problem, that has a tangible solution.
“And that’s an example of helping people realize that it’s more important to do it the same and be able to measure it than be able to do it the way they think it should be done… We track the actual standard deviation in the game and then show them that not only did they get a longer distance as a group but they also tightened the curve by being consistent,” says Tom.
Ultimately, Tom hopes that people take these principles they learn back to their organization and realize that they can’t just rely on technology to solve their problems. They must truly use it to their organization’s advantage and use it efficiently to do good work. Healthcare is complicated and requires adoption, alignment and a willingness to look beyond a one-step solution.