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HealthAugust 24, 2022

High-reliability organizations: Technology drives care delivery and workforce training

High-reliability organizations (HRO) in healthcare are defined as those that operate in complex, high-hazard situations for extended periods while managing to avoid serious failures. These organizations continually evolve their operations to maintain this high standard, and technology is an essential part of that.

Today’s healthcare leaders are more technologically savvy than ever before. And so are their patients. Tech initiatives are key to improving the way providers deliver care, satisfy patient expectations, and meet standards of HRO healthcare.

Core principles of high-reliability organizations in healthcare

High-reliability organizations in healthcare share a similar set of core principles which allow them to lead the industry in providing the best care for patients. These core principles include:

  • Providing access to the right data and information
  • Turning the best evidence into action
  • Empowering the healthcare workforce

Access to the right data and information

Many of healthcare’s change initiatives going back two decades can be traced to the optimization and coordination of health data. Yet until now, so much essential data has remained siloed, unstructured, inconsistent, or proprietary.

Clinicians often need treatment recommendations they can trust that don’t yet exist or are not clearly outlined in peer-reviewed literature.

Health information undermines outcomes

Clinicians and patients alike are also confronted with an unrelenting amount of misinformation that is now so pervasive that the World Health Organization has coined it an infodemic. Most guidelines, which clinicians rely on to guide treatment decisions, do not fully acknowledge the poor quality of the data on which they are based.

Health misinformation can undermine the patient-clinician relationship and negatively impact health outcomes, such as medication adherence. To avoid these threats, high-reliability organizations in healthcare prioritize full access to professionally sourced data that can be applied in clinical settings.

Balancing science and speed to turn evidence into action

Clinicians make decisions for care and management every day, so they must have timely access to guidance that synthesizes the best available evidence augmented by the wisdom of clinical experts and other relevant information sources that should have a bearing on clinical decision-making.

Making the best evidence available in a format that can be used by frontline healthcare providers holds enormous potential for improving post-pandemic care and saving lives— but only if done right. This includes dealing with unknown or complex conditions such as infectious diseases and cancers for which therapies rapidly change or are still emerging.

The best science requires transparency and trust, but for clinicians, that must be balanced with an actionable, usable format for the information. Critical components of that balance are:

  • Synthesized evidence
  • Peer review
  • Rigor and speed
  • Recognizable expertise
  • Transparency in how data is evaluated and how recommendations are made
  • Easy-to-find information (workflow integration)

Healthcare staffing struggles relate to digital transformations

Efforts to digitize and standardize healthcare also stem from the dire gaps in staffing resources and shrinking budgets. In England, NHS hospitals, mental health services, and community providers are now reporting a shortage of nearly 94,000 full-time staff, one in 10 posts being vacant in nursing.

Healthcare workforce strategies

The challenge will be to adopt new workforce strategies that foster retention, career development, and restorative self-care.

Four workforce imperatives for evolving healthcare:

  1. Incorporate training into new delivery models, reflecting team-based and technology-driven care
  2. Anticipate new learning styles – deliver shorter sessions and incorporate emerging digital tech tools
  3. Address mental health and well-being, including proactively engaging healthcare workers in improving the practice environment and workplace culture
  4. Pursue academic and research partnerships that focus on quality

Empowering healthcare through technology

Used correctly, technology can drive more efficient care delivery and workforce training for HRO healthcare. To learn more, download the eBook, “Using technology to become a high-reliability healthcare organization.”

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