About the Catholic Identity Matrix (CIM)
Establishing and maintaining institutional identity is a significant challenge for leaders in Catholic health care. In December 2005, the Sponsors Council of Ascension Health - the largest not-for-profit and Catholic health care system in the United States - requested the development of an assessment tool to assist with this task. The Catholic Identity Matrix (CIM) was created in response to this request.
The CIM helps a Catholic health system or hospital assess and enhance the degree to which it has integrated the six Catholic moral principles within its operating policies, processes and practices. The first implementation of the process took place at Ascension Health in 2006. The CIM was subsequently improved through a collaborative partnership between Ascension Health and the Veritas Institute of the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business (formerly known as the SAIP Institute). Additional support for the CIM’s ongoing improvement has been provided by the University of St. Thomas’ John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought and Gonzaga Ethics Institute, formerly at Gonzaga University.
An Overview of the CIM
The CIM structure combines two elements (Figure 1). Its foundation is an organizational assessment patterned after the self-appraisal process pioneered by the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Program. The CIM applies this assessment template in conjunction with six principles for Catholic health care institutions. The formulation of these principles draws upon a range of sources, including the Catholic social tradition, the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services issued by the Catholic bishops of the United States and the experience of Catholic health care leaders.
The principles are:
- Solidarity with those who live in poverty
- Holistic care
- Respect for human life
- Participatory community of work and mutual respect
- Acting in communion with the church
The CIM helps a Catholic health care institution evaluate the degree to which these principles shape its current operating policies and processes. The CIM translates the six standards into a set of behavioral benchmarks - a systematic array of questions - for Catholic health care services. By answering the questions within this inventory, and then evaluating their answers using a proprietary scoring system, an organization's leadership can identify where vital moral values have been integrated effectively within their organization's operations and where this integration is tenuous or lacking. The assessment thus highlights both areas of strength and critical improvement opportunities. Furthermore, the information gathered during the assessment process helps an organization formulate concrete initiatives designed to address specific improvement needs. In this way, the CIM catalyzes both critical reflection upon an organization's current state and practical improvements guided by Catholic moral teaching, thought and practice.
The CIM does not provide a “quick fix” to the challenge of Catholic institutional identity. However, periodic use of the CIM enables Catholic health care organizations to establish a discipline of sustained, ongoing improvement in response to the challenge of mission integration. In this way, the process helps them to advance the healing ministry of Jesus in a more efficacious manner.