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“Baseball is like church. Many attend few understand.” Leo Durocher

October 18, 2011

Nothing says “Fall” has arrived like the crack of the bat in the first game of MLB’s World Series. And we’ll get to hear that amazing sound when the St Louis Cardinals host the Texas Rangers for game one this Wednesday, October 19th!

 I can’t say I’m a diehard baseball fan, but there is something about the World Series that catches my attention every year. This year the pull I’m feeling has probably been magnified because of the buzz around the movie Moneyball.

 It’s a fascinating story. A true tale about how the traditional approach to evaluating a MLB player, batting averages, RBI’s and stolen bases, which was thought to be an accurate predictor of a players ability, was not as powerful a predictor of future performance as were newer non-traditional measures. New metrics such as the combination of on-base percentage with slugging percentage was a better measure of performance. The discovery of the new performance metrics by one financially disadvantaged team allowed them to successfully compete.

 By focusing on the recruitment of talent that was not identified by the traditional measures, but with the newer ones, they were targeting different resources than their competitors and the acquisition costs were minimized. The stories author described it as “the art of winning in an unfair game” where there is not an even playing field, financially, in the competition for talent.

 As with most things that are shown to have value, we need to find ways to use the new knowledge in new ways. How can this story help us see things differently in the healthcare industry?

 Though the story describes how a MLB team learned how to compete differently using performance metrics, I don’t think that is the lesson that the healthcare industry can take away. Instead of competing differently, I believe the value in this story is the importance of leveraging the increasingly sophisticated data available to find new ways to evaluate performance.

 Using “Hours Per Patient Day” as a performance measure in workforce management doesn’t insure that I win the game – by providing safe and effective care. Unfortunately, HPPD is the healthcare industry’s version of a batting average.

 What magic measure or combination of measures is yet to be discovered? Okay, “batter-up”…who’s going to hit this one out of the park?

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