• Duane

An apology to my high school maths teachers

I once had a stand up argument with a Year 9 maths teacher that I would never use algebra…… I wasn’t alone! I disliked it. I did not get it. I did not understand why anyone needed it.

A classic is to define '(x)'…. In high school it was so impractical and the questions so ‘un-real’…. but despite my cynicism, I’ve been using algebra quite a lot.

In the last few months it has morphed to the abstract: define (x) as the future of you and your organisation.

To start, I reflected on the uniqueness of Chappell Dean, and the symbiotic partnership with the Health Roundtable. Together, we have been quietly at the forefront of many initiatives that improve the measurement, analysis and collaboration that has supported improvements to health performance across Australia and NZ.

Things like Day of Surgery Admission (DOSA) rates; new models of standardised mortality; relative stay indexation; collecting thousands of hospital and clinical unit innovations into a central library and recently, modelling the operational and budget impact of DRG changes.

We capture enormous amounts of service data, standardise and analyse it to produce meaningful insights to focus improvement activity. We’ve been doing ‘big data’ for 20yrs….before it was a ‘thing’. This is a largely unheralded, but greatly respected partnership that has operated for over 20 years.

Now, Chappell Dean works across the majority of public and private hospitals in Australia and New Zealand through partnerships with the HRT, Catholic Negotiating Alliance and Australian Private Hospital Association. We also work with disability services in partnership with Ability Roundtable and Ability First, and last year, in collaboration with HealthDirect, we commenced a program (iHART) with telehealth organisations globally.

While the data we process and utilise is rich, the real magic happens when we bring people together to talk about and share what they’re doing to innovate and improve.

It’s the human connection that creates powerful and collaborative knowledge, and a diffusion of innovations across a large scale.

Seeing the influence that bringing a collective group together can have is a privilege we don’t take for granted.

It is a remarkable and unique business, with an incredible diversity of skills and experience in the team. At its core, there is a belief in collaboration and partnership, together with a burning drive to make a positive difference through robust evidence and smart, cost effective technology.

A large part of this has been down to its foundation and heritage - the rigour, skill and unrelenting commitment of David Dean, founder of Chappell Dean and of the HRT. On my appointment David and his advisory board suggested that at some point he would ride into the sunset….but it was a way off.

As I began to think about the future, without exception, the word that most came out from my discussions with staff, HRT members, clients and stakeholders was “potential”. This word embodies so much…..optimism, forward looking, possibility, energy.

And so, in recent months my equation required modification to: define (x) assuming lots of potential but with the founding experience, skill and dedication wanting to enjoy a less demanding lifestyle…..

What would this look like? Who is involved? Who takes the lead?

I concluded that as much as having a plan and definition would be great, the first priority must be a care for the business, its unique approach and an understanding of its potential. Anything else may mean it would not survive. And so, as someone famous once said: “If it is to be, it is up to me”.

And so, my abstract problem has become something much more than a solution to a linear equation.

It’s become a calling… that’s been imagined for a while, but now it's been made very real.

I am really pleased, and more than just a little bat-shit scared to write, that from January 2018, Chappell Dean will sit within a company I’ve set up…….we are called:

The name came out as everything was brought together: the constant use of “potential”; an undefined future – an (x) – but something positive and powerful….a little nod to our statistical heritage… the power of (x)…. potential(x)

Our purpose will be to design and use everything at our disposal to complete the equation in our name.

We will be deliberate in our development, continuous in our learning and, in equal measure, challenge and support each other, and our clients, to complete their equation.

I’m so incredibly grateful to those who’ve helped this come about over the last few months. To my wife and family who’ve been so supportive, to our team who’ve been very patient, to David for offering the opportunity and to all those who’ve taken my calls, answered my questions, counselled, and placed their trust and enthusiasm into this venture.....

And to my maths teachers....apologies I argued so were right!

I can’t wait to get on with it. 2018 is going to be huge.

What’s your (x)?

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