Think about Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). Their patients aren’t filtered through teams of receptionists and multiple computer systems before they receive their treatment.
Those doctors are on the front line, not worrying about all of the other stuff. They are simply doing what is best for the patient and nothing more. And it works.
Understanding Where Things Are Going Wrong
Of course, there needs to be a certain level of risk management. However, just because something went wrong once, should every single patient have to deal with a convoluted system?
At one point or another, doctors see pretty much every single person on the planet. So the aim should not be to micromanage everything but to understand the root cause of any blunders.
Once this is clear, the next step is to look at the potential systemic changes that are required. All of this needs to happen so that doctors can provide the service of healthcare.
These alternatives are not considered because all the focus is on adding more and more technology. The requirement for nurses to develop their technical capabilities is increasing dramatically. But no one’s asking whether that’s actually the right thing to do.
A 2018 report by Deloitte Access Economics, in partnership with James Cook University, stated that nurses will require further and increasing technical skills and qualifications, whilst simultaneously calling out the shortage of qualified nursing professionals in the Australian labour market.1
The ever-increasing technical requirements for qualified professionals are only the beginning for staff in the healthcare sector. Anything they learn in their qualifications will also need to be coupled with what they are subsequently required to know to function in each different organisation. Technical implementations that are unwieldy and unguided, even siloed to individual functions, create a massive burden on already burdened staff.
All of this means that overwhelmed staff are going to be interacting with patients. Burnout is already prevalent, so this additional load cannot bode well for a positive customer experience. Staff will become further overwhelmed in a complexity of daily functions as technology proliferates.
What can be done?
Where Are You Going And Why?
Maybe the first step in approaching this challenge is to look at why we’re putting this technology into hospitals in the first place. Once this has been held up to the light, it may reveal that this technology is introducing inefficiency, not efficiency.
When you don’t explore these systemic changes but simply focus on training people, where does it stop? Will nurses need a degree in computer science in order to do their job? What is it that you’re trying to do for your staff?
Why is throwing more technology at the problems and shoving people through more training courses seen as the only solution? Would it not be better to understand the systemic nature of the need for technology in the first place?
If you only look at these things in a silo and see that there’s a new technique, and in order to work through this new technique you need new technology, this means that all the staff need to be trained to use this new technology.
Did you stop to ask whether this technique is doing the right thing for your patients or your staff? Did you explore what alternatives are available?
Over-reliance on technology can often create a host of problems that are passed onto the customer. However, due to the nature of the problems, the organisation may not even be aware that there is anything wrong.
1 “The Future of Work: Occupational and education trends in nursing in Australia.” Deloitte.com. Deloitte Access Economics. February 2018.