The consequences of failure in healthcare can be dire. Providing health care has gravity, driving many healthcare organizations to strive to become a High-Reliability Organization, or HRO. HROs are organizations that operate in complex, high-risk environments with fewer than normal accidents or catastrophic failures.
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, HROs exhibit the following qualities:
- Preoccupation with failure: Employees are constantly aware of the potential for failure and are vigilant of the next possible failure.
- Reluctance to simplify: Staff in HROs understand that their work is complex and seek to understand the underlying reasoning for success or failure rather than settle for surface explanations.
- Sensitivity to operations: Staff in HROs understand that their work is complex and seek to understand the underlying reasoning for success or failure rather than settle for surface explanations.
- Deference to expertise: HROs appreciate that individuals can develop exceptional knowledge or expertise in their work and emphasize expertise over hierarchy.
- Commitment to resilience: There is a fundamental understanding that system failures are unpredictable, and staff are constantly assessing how they'll prevent or respond to threats.
Clearly, high-reliability is important in direct clinical activities, but high-reliability is just as important for support functions that have an indirect but significant impact on outcomes. Think about it: a late supply delivery or a damaged lab sample can negatively impact care and patient outcomes. Conversely, efficient and reliable intra-company logistics can support providers' commitments to high-reliability.
This concept of HROs resonates with us at MedSpeed because ultimately what we do is part of the production of positive results (i.e. avoidance of failure). We look at the HRO qualities as points of reflection and ask ourselves how well we embody those characteristics. For the most part, we fare well, evidenced by the fact that we are the substantive performance leader in our space. However, when it comes to health care delivery, we must leave no stone unturned. We will continue to push forward and advance—part of our commitment to take care of the communities we serve.