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To Improve Patient Safety, Four Ways Healthcare Organizations Must Think Differently

HealthStream recently interviewed Bryan Warren, the Director of Healthcare Solutions at Select International, to get his insight on how behavioral assessments can help organizations build a patient-centered and patient safety-focused culture. He also asserts the hiring system at every level of the organization must target those competencies in candidates. Warren says that such a culture is dependent on the identification of relevant behaviors. He suggests the following new ways to think about patient safety:

Consistency is Key for Patient Safety

Patient safety requires the consistent execution of policies and procedures, following the rules every time. In other words, no shortcuts. This consistency requires a higher level of consciousness, attention to detail, and locus of control–the belief you have control over a situation. Because nurses and physicians have earned the status of highly trained professionals, they exercise something called exception thinking. As a result, healthcare providers sometimes use shortcuts. Why? Simply stated, shortcuts have been allowed! Other industries, such as manufacturing, do not permit these exceptions or any deviation from procedures.

Be Like Other Industries and Understand When There’s Only One Way to Do Things

Warren offers this explanation: “We have a safety team that works in the energy sector and manufacturing. When they’re in the physical plant, escorted by the client, and they walk up steps without putting their hands on the handrail, they’re immediately corrected. We’ve seen organizations where just stepping out of a truck for a moment, requires putting on the hard hat – every time.”

Non-Adherence to Policy is Not an Option

By contrast, there’s a culture of professional autonomy in healthcare. “We trust physicians and nurses to make sound decisions, so the culture has always been one of a culture of expertise, not a culture driven by adherence to policies and procedures,” Warren explains. “Now, because we have proved adherence to policy is in the best interest of safety, hospitals are getting it.” As a result, hospitals are starting to use checklists.

The Human Element, Such as Communication, Must Be Considered

Occasionally hospitals do not see the immediate benefit of checklists. “We worked with a hospital where they’d seen great results from establishing behavioral competencies, but when they implemented an OR checklist, they didn’t see a positive impact,” Warren commented. “They failed to address the human element. They restarted the project, but unlike the first rollout, they met with the teams and communicated what they were trying to accomplish. Once the team owned the process and the purpose, the checklist was highly successful in making patients safer.” It was important to address the cultural piece first

To hear Bryan Warren’s full discussion, link here.

About Bryan Warren

Warren is the director of healthcare solutions at Select International, a company specializing in the development of employee selection tools designed to help organizations build a strong workforce. As an attorney, Warren represented physicians and healthcare organizations in a variety of regulatory and employment law matters. He has also served as vice president and corporate counsel for a leading hospital management consulting firm. He now works with Select International’s consulting team to develop effective solutions focused on the physician hiring and development process.

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