MUSC's Quantum Leap

March 29, 2023
Quantum space

Disclaimer: I am not a physicist, nor do I pretend to be one (although I did sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night). That said, I’m going to use some fairly recent developments in physics theory as a metaphor for our immediate future at MUSC in the context of strategic growth.

Ok, good, we got that out of the way.

Science writer Philip Ball contributed a piece to Quanta Magazine in 2019 that offered the following brief summary of quantum physics and a then-recent discovery:

“When quantum mechanics was first developed a century ago as a theory for understanding the atomic-scale world, one of its key concepts was so radical, bold and counter-intuitive that it passed into popular language: the ‘quantum leap.’ Purists might object that the common habit of applying this term to a big change misses the point that jumps between two quantum states are typically tiny, which is precisely why they weren’t noticed sooner. But the real point is that they’re sudden. So sudden, in fact, that many of the pioneers of quantum mechanics assumed they were instantaneous.

A new experiment shows that they aren’t. By making a kind of high-speed movie of a quantum leap, the work reveals that the process is actually continuous… what seemed to the quantum pioneers to be unavoidable randomness in the physical world is now shown to be amenable to control. We can take charge of the quantum.”

What I took from this article is that the common understanding of a “quantum leap”, meaning a dramatic advance or great improvement, isn’t actually random or sudden. In fact, it is the natural result of a series, or continuation of activities. Quantum leaps, although potentially dramatic in terms of impact or impression, are the result or next logical step resulting from a series of intentional processes that produce real changes over time.

Bottom line, we have more control over how we leap forward than one might think. And despite the appearance of a quantum leap being a wild jump over a canyon, it is actually the next, manageable logical step in an intentional walk.

You might characterize what has occurred within our organization over the past eight years as some version of this pre-quantum activity, with MUSC busy at the “atomic level”, guiding and creating new (and sometimes independent) processes in care delivery, system growth, health sciences education and research discovery to reach our next state. Our Quantum leap occurs when we lean into and focus on the breakthrough results that we desire.

If my amateur illustration of physics above hasn’t illuminated the point, I’ll state it plainly – Quantum is not about creating chaos or a spontaneous, random event. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s about planning for the present and the future in aligned and integrated ways. For us, that’s the continued transformation of MUSC into a preeminent and innovative academic health system in South Carolina – to not just meet, but to lean into the future. So, what does that look like?

Several months ago, leadership teams at MUSC began work on an initiative we have named Quantum to address the huge opportunity we have before us at this moment in our timeline to pull all of the pieces together to enable the full transformation we seek- to meet our full potential.

The sum of our growth and work over these past eight years now positions us , as the state’s only comprehensive academic health system, to complete a quantum leap. The logical next step requires a major increase in clinical and academic faculty. Incremental annual hires are insufficient; we require a leap forward in alignment, infrastructure, engagement and staffing to meet the future. Recruiting, onboarding and retaining the level of physicians, academic faculty and residents required to reach our full potential is a critical next step for us to achieve OneMUSC. The following areas are of utmost importance in prepping us for this quantum leap as an organization:

  • Enterprise-wide strategic agreement: gain further and more intentional alignment in strategic growth priorities across all MUSC senior leadership councils.
  • Enterprise-wide clinical strategic plan: identify and evaluate appropriate clinical data and metrics to meet the needs of the communities we serve more fully.
  • Enterprise-wide research strategic plan: identify strategic areas of strength or desired growth for strategic hires and create better alignment with our clinical areas of strength across all six colleges.
  • Enterprise-wide Graduate Medical Education (GME) strategic plan: develop a GME strategic growth plan that evaluates Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and non-ACGME expansions.
  • Enterprise-wide employee engagement plan: maximize resilience efforts and train/hire critical staff to support and reflect growth in today’s job challenged market.
  • Update and improve the funds-flow process.
  • Charleston campus space plan: systematically and comprehensively map out appropriate space/clinical facilities/research space/office needs and timing in a post-pandemic work world.
  • Charleston Clinical Recruitment Project: focus on COM/MUHA/MUSCP developing aligned processes and systems to recruit providers.
  • Investment Modeling: focus on the investments necessary to bring “quantum” recruitment to fruition.
  • Affiliate Employment Models: focus on the various physician employment models that intersect directly with Charleston and align them with an overarching plan.
  • University Costs Models for Community Physicians: reevaluate University base costing for community physicians who are hired in MUSCP/COM. Allocate revenue cycle management costs to physicians.

This is not easy work, and change is going to be difficult for our MUSC family in this process. It’s going to involve our digital transformation journey, the systematic addressing of pain points that have long plagued many of our space and hiring processes, and an honest reevaluation of how we make decisions related to the ongoing operations of the work we are interested in and work that is required of us. But, if we take a coherent and intentional approach to this work, together, our quantum leap forward will benefit those we serve for generations to come. Or if all of this sounds a little like a Star Trek movie, in the immortal words of Dr. Spock- so we can “live long and prosper.”