Preparing for the Future

by Stefani Daniels, RN, MSNA, CMAC, ACM
Published on Jun 01, 2015

In the often cited science experiment, when a frog is placed in a pot of scalding hot water, it will immediately jump out. But if the water is cool and heat is gradually applied, the frog will stay in the pot until it is ultimately boiled. This experiment underscores the danger of gradual change.


Preparing for the FutureAn organism is less likely to notice gradual change and therefore is less likely to react to the change, perhaps until it is too late. On the other hand, being more obvious and uncomfortable, dramatic change usually causes the organism to react much more quickly and forcibly.

With the increase in rapid changes in the environment, hospital case management programs now find themselves in a pot of boiling water. The case management leader is a master at tweaking numerous dials, pulling levers at the right time, and expertly pressing the right buttons to adapt to new pressures. But there is a problem inherent with maintaining a focus on optimizing case management workflow operations: It is difficult to strengthen the current program while simultaneously inventing its future.

Successful change does not just happen; it requires three key elements. There must be awareness of an impending boiling pot, a compelling vision of the future, and a bridge between the two. Planning a successful transformation is very difficult to accomplish while the pot is actually boiling, so don't make the mistake of waiting too long to begin. Building awareness of the impending boiling pot and creating the compelling vision for the future will be the comparatively easy parts. It is the bridge between the two that will require considerable forethought and careful planning to execute. Progression-of-care is a very complex process involving a multitude of key stakeholders all of whom need to cross the bridge in unison. You have to help them get there.