The article concerns an effort by Bay Area nurses to reduce the occurrence of medication errors, which, according to the Chronicle, cause 400,000 preventable injuries and cost an extra $3.5 billion in medical costs each year. The results of the effort: a 88% reduction in medication errors in the participating hospitals.
Here are a few quotes that talk about areas I’m interested in – listening to and empowering customer-facing (patient-facing?) personnel, and the value of simple, low-tech solutions to business problems:
Striving to reduce interruptions that lead to mistakes, teams of nurses at the different hospitals came up with a variety of methods – often surprisingly low tech – to alert others they were administering medications….
The solutions “have to be low tech because we, as staff nurses, don’t have the money or ability to make high-tech changes,” said Celeste Arbis, a registered nurse in the medical-surgical unit there. “Something as simple as changing the process just a little bit can make a big difference.”…
Nurses attributed much of the program’s success to allowing those on the front lines to develop and tailor their own solutions.
I’ve seen both these situations in action: the ability of front-line personnel to understand and fix problems with the processes they use, and the effectiveness of often-overlooked simple and low-tech solutions. Sutton wrote something very profound in his post on this subject: “I think that people — especially managers — often use spending money as a substitute for thinking, when inexpensive and low-tech solutions work just fine.”