Recently my wife had surgery. This gave me occasion to hang around a hospital for days at a time. While my intent was to be there to attend to any of my wife’s needs. I could not help but be an ardent observer of all of what I saw going on there. I was intrigued by their processes and procedure and could not help but notice the repeated effort to, and technology used, to ensure there were no errors.
I don’t work or travel in medical circles so I really don’t know what goes on or what is in the forefront of this space currently. As I suspect, most of our PICHR readers don’t either, as we are predominately died in the wool HR folks. I work in the manufacturing segment, and for many years, as a community we have been working on different aspects of the Six Sigma concept. And even within that process, a goal of 99.99966% is the target, not the 100% or zero defects target which the medical community aspires to reach.
I understand that if a product has a defect and a consumer has to return it to the retailer, that does not have the same effect as that of a faulty hip replacement, or some other medical device, but as long as we continue to view our work product in that light will we ever get to the next level?
After arriving at the hospital the day of the surgery, my wife was asked by 8 different people (that I heard) what her name was, what her date of birth was and what procedure she was having performed. Along the way, 5 of those 8 people also scanned the bar code on her bracelet as a method of inputting data, but it also assured that they had the correct person for the correct procedure. The last step of this confirmation process was to physically write on my wife’s back L5-S1 (the area of the surgery). I wrote this and initialed it. Then when the surgeon came to see her before the surgery, he initialed this and wrote on her back the medicines that would cause an allergic reaction for her. They were going to get this right- without question!
While she was in surgery they used text message to communicate with me about her status. This isn’t such an epiphany but nonetheless a very nice touch.
Later back in her room, I continued the observation processes. There were two things I continued to be taken with and they were pretty simple. Each time there was an interaction with the patient, it would be logged into their computer system. An employee ID badge was used to logon (no key strokes or passwords). Then to access the patient file and record data the care givers were required to use a scanner and scan my wife’s bracelet, again to ensure accuracy.
There are many more things I took away from this experience, but that is all I will put on you now. Here is my point to all of this. Do you give your work in HR this level of importance – are you positive that everything you do is correct? Do you have processes and policies in place to ensure this? Do you or your department check, and re-check more than once, do you audit your systems or are you adding technology to ensure accuracy.
Or do you subscribe to the, aw shucks it’s just Human Resources and maybe some payroll mentality, if it’s not right we can fix it next week or at the next review, right?
If you agree, I think you might want to contemplate a few items such as employee safety, taxes, data security or building security. You may not have a second chance to get it right. Let’s learn from our friends in the medical community and get it right the first time and every time.
P.S. As a side note, my wife is doing fine and got some really fantastic care on the fourth floor in the Neurological Wing at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, IL.