Health: Steady for Success

You can turn on the TV and it won’t take more than a few minutes before you see a health-related commercial. There are so many options out there, it can make your head spin. They all promise to get your in shape quickly, easily and that they have the “difference that you need” to finally get healthy.These promises are funny to me because they are appealing to someone that has not been on track and wants to not only get on track, but to see results instantly. There is something to be said for results and getting them quickly. I can’t blame anyone for wanting this, but there is a fatal flaw in this thinking.When you start a new workout plan or change your diet, you are doing more than burning more calories and taking in fewer calories. You are creating new habits. As you create those habits, you are making the new behaviors part of your routine. As the routine becomes more normal for you, it gets easier.The only way to make it easy is to do it for a long time. Practice makes perfect is a saying that comes to mind. You can’t just jump out and start doing something and expect to lose weight instantly and have no difficulty. It doesn’t work that way.It never has and it never will.The promises that you see on TV are always going to be there. These companies are trying to sell a product. They need you to try their product and they are competing with other products that are offering quick and easy results. That is the gimmick that has been working on people for decades.Think about it:
These companies continue to find new twists on the same workouts and new machines to offer you new ways to do the same workouts that you’ve done in the past. The biggest problem is not the convenience of these movements. It is not the new trainer on the video you just bought. It’s not even the fact that you were trying to do things the hard way.The problem is not that you didn’t have this new video or machine in your life. The problem is that you never stuck with the last thing you tried. News flash: If you don’t stick with this one, it won’t work either.The marketing for new exercise products is funny to me because they are promising something that is completely true. If you do an exercise program, any exercise program consistently over a period of time, you will see results. If you work really hard for a really long time, you will see great results. The marketing is funny to me because they can promise that all day and never give you what you actually need to make it all work.The motivation and planning to execute your routine over an extended period of time is what you need to make exercise work. You already know what to do. You already know how to do it. If exercise “hasn’t worked in the past” for you, it is because you stopped doing it. It is not because you were doing it wrong. It is not because you didn’t have the right technology. It wasn’t because you had yet to see some revolutionary system that would be “the end of your struggle”.I’ll say it again. If a routine, any routine hasn’t worked for you, it is not because it wasn’t the right routine. It didn’t work because you stopped doing it. Any routine that you do regularly is going to yield good results. Any product that you use will work if you actually use it.What is the real secret? The secret to success in health lies in one word. There are many ways to be healthy. There are many ways to lose weight, many ways to get in shape. If you want to be healthy than your routine has to work for you. If you want it to work, the one word that has to be part of your plan is: steady.The more you do something, the more it works. This is true in health and in every other area of life. If you buy the best workout DVD’s, have the most knowledgeable trainer in the world, it won’t matter if you can’t do it consistently. You have to be steady and do something regularly if you want it to do anything for you.”Slow and steady wins the race”. It’s true. If you do something regularly, even if it is simple and modest, you will see better results over the long-term than if you try a few flashy things sporadically every few years. We’ve all seen the before and after pictures of the people that got on track with the latest craze. The will show you what someone was able to accomplish in 30 days or 90 days. What they won’t show you is that same person 90 days after they took that picture. They won’t show you what that person looks like 6 months or a year later.Why won’t they show you the person after that after picture? They won’t show you that because they don’t promise you that. They can promise you (with a disclaimer) that you will get results in 30 days, but they won’t promise you that you can stick with it long enough to make it part of your routine. They can’t promise you that.Only you can do that. You are the only one that can change your routine. It doesn’t matter what you do. If you do it and are steady with it, you will see results.It’s actually quite simple. Don’t let marketing or technology make you feel like you don’t understand it. Health is the same as it always was. Just because there are new ways to workout doesn’t mean that you are out of the loop. It just means that someone found new way to do the same thing and packaged it differently.The key is not the next best thing. The key is to be steady and consistent. If your routine is steady, you will be healthy.

Secrets for Success in the Current Healthcare Climate: Q and A With UW Medicine CEO Paul G Ramsey

For the past 20 years, UW Medicine has received top ratings from U.S. News & World Report for its clinical, education and research programs. However, even one of the nation’s leading academic healthcare systems feels the current economic strain and pressure of national healthcare reform. It can be a challenge to improve healthcare quality, safety and access while also controlling and reducing costs.Paul G. Ramsey, MD, CEO of UW Medicine, executive vice president for medical affairs and dean of the school of medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle, discusses UW Medicine’s current goals as well as the system’s “secrets for success” in the current healthcare climate – measurements and metrics, teamwork, hard work and a clear vision for the future.Question: What are UW Medicine’s current goals?Dr. Ramsey: We are in a very exciting and challenging time in medicine. UW Medicine’s primary goals relate to our mission of improving health for all people. It is important for UW Medicine, as a leading healthcare and academic system, to remain focused on improving the quality and safety of care and the overall services to patients and their families. At the same time, substantially controlling and reducing costs in the same areas are important.Our goals this year encompass our mission of improving health in the work we do – in research to discover new ways to improve health, in our clinical programs by offering the very best care for our patients, and in our education and training programs designed to prepare the next generation of health and science professionals.Q: How do you go about achieving your goals?PR: As we focus on improving quality and safety in patient care while improving our services, we use measurement tools to assess where we are now, to monitor our progress, and to set goals for making improvements for the coming year.Our research, supported primarily by grants, is oriented toward improving health. For educational programs, we establish measures and benchmarks to track outcomes, such as where our medical students and residents choose to practice after training, what percentage go into primary care, and how many students and residents choose practice settings that care for underserved patient populations. Metrics and measurements help us identify and support effective programs and improve our outcomes.One excellent example of our use of measurement in clinical care is the work done over the past few years in the UW Medicine spine program – Sports, Spine & Orthopaedic Health. This program has integrated activities related to diagnoses and care of patients with back pain. Health professionals from multiple specialties – rehabilitation medicine, orthopedics, neurology, neurosurgery and radiology – have examined best practices in the literature and reviewed results from our own program to develop clinical pathways that are more standardized and cost-effective approaches to managing the very large number of patients with back pain.As a result of this research and the resulting changes to our care approaches – as well as the outstanding service offered to patients – patients are very satisfied with our spine program. We know this because we ask patients to self-assess their recovery. By continuously using metrics and measurements to document and monitor program results, UW Medicine can apply for funding that furthers the system’s ability to improve patient care.Q: In your opinion, are there any challenges UW Medicine faces in achieving its goals?PR: There are major challenges in 2012. Our largest challenges, however, are common to all academic health systems around the United States. The foremost challenge is the economy.The economy is adversely affecting support for medical education, clinical care and research. The negative impact on research comes at a time when research has done so much and could do so much more. It is frustrating to see medical research support decline when the outcomes are so exciting and are directly leading to improved health. In 2012, we have the potential to cure and prevent diseases in many areas that could not be addressed in the past. Just this past year, one of our researchers – Suzanne Craft – tested a nasal insulin spray as a treatment for memory loss and dementia. In a randomized controlled trial, she found significant improvement in patients who used the spray. Without adequate research funding, this very promising discovery will not be translated rapidly into new, cost-effective approaches for treatment. Funding support from the National Institutes of Health is extraordinarily important.Another challenge common to all systems, including UW Medicine, is the fact that we must control healthcare costs and in some areas reduce costs rather dramatically while also improving quality, safety and access for patients. A business model of “we must do better” comes at the same time that we must control and reduce healthcare costs.Fortunately, UW Medicine has a large number of hard-working, dedicated and outstanding people, who are working to improve quality, safety, service and access in all of our clinical settings.Q: What do you believe has helped UW Medicine thrive despite hard economic times and downward pressure on the healthcare sector?PR: We are financially stable across our very large health system, and I attribute our fiscal stability to hard work by hundreds of leaders across our system. We are fortunate to have a large number of individuals who are doing their jobs very well. We have also made substantial investments in our financial systems over the last five years, and these investments have resulted in accurate and timely financial information to enable us to make good decisions. UW Medicine has been historically conservative in developing business plans and that approach has served us well in a time of economic turmoil. In short, UW Medicine has thrived because of the outstanding, dedicated individuals who work here.Q: What could other health systems learn from UW Medicine in terms of addressing current healthcare challenges?PR: Since we are one of the largest and best health systems in the world, we have a special responsibility to develop solutions that other systems can emulate. We need to be a model for developing and implementing new approaches to treat and prevent diseases. Our leaders, faculty and staff are working to design new approaches to address clinical care – improvements for specific conditions, the best methods to implement known standards of care, and ways to increase the effectiveness of healthcare teams. We are also developing new approaches to using information technology that facilitate the work of our healthcare professionals and that help patients interact with their healthcare providers.Q: What do you enjoy most about being CEO at UW Medicine?PR: I enjoy all aspects of my position, but if you are asking me to identify one special area, I would say that it is the opportunity to shape the future of healthcare – to focus on how UW Medicine can advance its mission of improving health for all people. I enjoy leading, planning and developing new programs. I enjoy working with people and I am very fortunate to have a large number of outstanding administrative and academic leaders working with me. UW Medicine has more than 21,000 employees and we have culture of collaboration and teamwork. It is a great pleasure to follow all of the programs that are delivering excellence in patient care programs, creating new knowledge on a daily basis and preparing the next generation of healthcare professionals and scientists.Q: What is your leadership philosophy?PR: Lead by example. Lead by serving others. Lead by being an effective communicator. I try to support the individuals who are doing great work by working hard as well.Q: What has been your proudest accomplishment as CEO?PR: Despite the economic turmoil, UW Medicine has remained focused on improving health for all people, putting patients’ interests first and creating active learning for students and trainees. Despite the economy, UW Medicine has continued to achieve excellence in all of our activities.Q: Do you have any personal goals for leading UW Medicine this year?PR: My personal goals and aspirations align with UW Medicine’s goals. I receive great satisfaction from those goals because I value and enjoy UW’s overall mission of seeking to improve health for the overall population. I set my own professional goals in relationship to how I spend my time working with faculty, staff and students to achieve the overall goals for UW Medicine.