In the book Antifragile, author Nassim Taleb points out that there’s no word that describes the opposite of fragile.
“Fragile” describes something that is injured when shaken.
Something that is resilient isn’t the actual opposite of fragile — it isn’t made better when shaken — it’s just able to withstand being shaken.
But antifragile, in Taleb-speak, describes something that is actually improved when subjected to stress.
We’re at a point in time where there is increasing complexity and change in healthcare and its regulation. We’re also at a point in time in which a virus, coronavirus or COVID-19, is wreaking havoc not only on society, but on medical groups. Depending on the specialty, the havoc is a flood of demand, more than can be handled, or a dearth of work, a time to batten down the hatches and wait out the storm.
Is it possible to apply the concept of antifragility to a medical group or a healthcare business? I’m not sure. But, certainly, there are things that you can do now to put your group or other healthcare venture into a better position moving forward, even if that position is merely a hardening against injury and not true antifragility.
You can use my concept of the Scenario Survey Process™ (read about it here) to develop potential future scenarios and then to devise a strategy that will help you not only survive, but even potentially thrive, in as many of those futures as possible.
For example, consider a group or a practice that is currently dependent upon a single hospital or a single location or a single referral source. Those relationships are certain to become far more stressed in coming months. They are fragile.
Or for example, consider a group whose work load is cut back drastically, yet which has promised, contractually promised, all of its 43 physicians “an equitable share of the schedule.” The group is fragile.
Through the use of the Scenario Survey Process™ the group or practice can examine potential scenarios and then strategize as to them: How could you best hedge against any such scenario? What relationships can you create and to which facilities might you expand and what changes within your group might you make to not only devise a softer landing, but perhaps build a better launching pad no matter what happens?
I don’t have the one, single, simple solution to this. Nobody does. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start thinking about it today.
Comment or contact me if you’d like to discuss this post.
Mark F. Weiss