Reliability redefined

October 3, 2018  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership,

At Michigan Medicine, patient safety is one of the most important priorities, because it is absolutely central to excellent patient care.

In order to continue efforts to decrease the number of harmful events, the institution has partnered with Healthcare Performance Improvement (HPI), a leading patient safety consulting firm, to help reduce preventable medical errors and enhance Michigan Medicine’s safety culture. HPI has helped more than 700 health care organizations across the country reduce their serious safety events by 80 percent within two years.

HPI focuses on high reliability, which means that an organization consistently performs at a very high level despite challenging conditions.

Highly reliable organizations reduce the risk of patient harm because they have reliable processes, make continuous efforts to improve and have a robust culture of safety.

The concept of high reliability is rooted in research on industries like nuclear power and commercial aviation. The nature of such work leads to an increased likelihood of accidents or harmful events — yet highly complex organizations in those fields have largely found ways to stay free of major incidents.

Research shows that highly reliable organizations depend on transparency, and rely on their employees to raise concerns in order to make improvements and strive for zero harm. These same concepts, applied to health care, can help health care providers reduce patient harm.

The journey to zero harm

Michigan Medicine’s partnership with HPI will span three years. Initially, HPI will be reviewing the organization’s safety events and talking with employees across all levels to understand the current patient safety culture.

Using that knowledge, they will identify opportunities for improvement. They will work with a recently-convened High Reliability Steering Committee to design a comprehensive training plan and set of interventions which, over a 12-month period, will be rolled out to leaders and then to all staff.

“Typically, when health care organizations make improvements, they focus on very specific interventions that don’t have broad effects,” said Laura W. Lamps, M.D., patient safety officer. “HPI will help us develop the broad preventative tools that we need to really make a difference to patients.”

Although the journey to become a highly reliable organization will be facilitated by the Office of Patient Safety, it will require support and engagement from all levels of the organization.

“We are fully committed to achieving zero patient harm,” said Nicole Templeton, MHSA, R.N., the administrative director for patient safety. Templeton, along with Lamps, will serve as the primary leads in this effort to coordinate the engagement with HPI.

To learn more about highly reliable organizations, click here.