Jan 1, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year! While New Year's Eve means for most a countdown to midnight, a toast of champagne (sparkling cider for the little ones), hugs and kisses with friends and family, and hopefully a better rendition of Auld Lang Syne than what I heard last night, let's consider new year's resolutions...

Midnight on December 31st seems like such an arbitrary moment in time, yet it holds so much meaning for everyone. Is the new year a new beginning? A second chance? A redo, restart, or reboot? Last night, my family and I sat on Hollywood Beach along with at least 300 perfect strangers to watch a captivating dance performance and countdown to the new year. Many families brought with them bottles of champagne to the beach to celebrate the new year. Perhaps December 31st didn't feel any different from December 30th, June 15th, or April 8th, so we brought water. My mind was completely fixated on the dance performance-- Abakua, an Afro-Latin Dance Company, I couldn't even imagine what that would look like. But then my dance musings were suddenly interrupted by the city commissioner of Hollywood. He kicked off the dance show with a hearty, "I wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year." A happy and healthy new year, huh?

I'll admit that the Abakua dancers distracted me from new year's resolutions and thoughts of health for their two hour show. The dancers were amazing and proved that a fusion of two dance cultures was not as difficult as I initially thought. But when their show came to a close and we were left to dance around in the sand in the last twenty minutes of 2008 waiting for midnight, I began to wonder about the sudden emphasis on health in the new year. Did the city commissioner mention health because the average age of the audience was probably over 40 and the majority of the population was probably snowbirds from New York? Or was it the new emphasis on health reform as brought about by the recent Presidential elections? With the struggling economy, maybe those escalating health care costs are finally looking debilitating? Or maybe on a more individual level, people always want to lose weight. Conversations around us all contained snippets of "exercise more", "eat healthy", "lose X pounds". Taking a quick look at USA.gov's list of popular new year's resolutions, seven out of thirteen of them are health-related.

Whether or not this new year means a blank slate or a redo, we can take this opportunity to embrace the atmosphere of change, revisit our current health situation at all levels, and take some positive actions. In my personal realm of fitness, I'm going to try to vary my exercise routine, start to include some weight training, and push myself a little harder aerobically. My parents are going to try to go to our local gym at least once a week. My sister is going to work on eating less cookies (something I should actually work on too!).

Health changes are occurring on a larger scale as well. At our National Forum, IHI has laid out a new initiative called The IHI Improvement Map to help hospitals and health systems achieve positive change this year and in years to come in health care delivery.

While it may be an exaggeration to say that health systems are stuck in a bit of a quagmire, the Improvement Map hopes to help hospitals navigate and find those reliable routes of improvement. The 12 changes launched through the 100,000 Lives and 5 Million Lives Campaigns are a few routes and IHI is now expanding that list to include three new routes: the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist, a Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections bundle, and a CFO package to address finances and quality. The list will continue to expand and develop as we learn of new routes to the best outcomes. Click here to learn more as there is something for everyone.

So, as you take today to think about your new year's resolutions and the new year, let me take this opportunity to echo the city commissioner's sentiments: Cheers to a happy, and most of all, healthy new year!

What are some of your healthy new year's resolutions (personal or at a larger level)?