5 key steps can aid IT, organization improvement efforts

Elements in the process must be ‘healthy, collectively aligned,’ says Kevin Nortrup.

Healthcare providers and administrators within organizations wishing to improve decision making need to start by examining five core areas within the facility—culture, organizational structure, processes, technology and training, says Kevin Nortrup, principal at Sugar Creek Solutions, a change management consultancy.

“These elements have to be individually healthy and collectively aligned,” he notes. That means people have to be on board with commitments to work toward change.

Nortrup will walk through the steps, and how it can impact IT executives in their leadership roles, during an education session at HIMSS17. He said he believes the first step is to define the problem and the objectives. The complexity of the given situation will invite unintended consequences that can torpedo an initiative, so having a good and accepted understanding of the objectives at the start is crucial.

One of the objectives needs to be re-examining delegation of responsibilities, Nortrup contends. Hospitals often have an organizational structure similar to that of other corporations—people are defined by their core skill set rather than the overall suitability of a job for which they are being considered. “Have people more educated and trained to accomplish front-line tasks, focused on what they are delivering and not what they are doing,” he advises.

What that means is that executives in organizations often believe that they need a cadre of specialists for a new project. “When you just have specialists, they look at narrow elements,” Nortrup says. “You need someone who can take it all in because there are lots of examples of where the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.”

And too often, there are too many people involved and trying to lead, and they typically do not let competent people do their jobs, Nortrup asserts. You have nurses with impressive medical skills being hounded by a quality control officer who says they have to conduct particular activities to prevent errors, or a rule that says nurses can’t pick up a patient weighing more than 60 pounds without help, or privacy and security officers coming in with their own requirements on nurses—and the nurses just want to do their jobs rather than deal with outside competing requirements.

Session 50, “A Call to Action: From Improving Process to Improving Systems,” is scheduled for 3 p.m. February 20 in Room W208C.

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