High-reliability organizations: Technology drives care delivery and workforce training

High reliability organizations (HROs) in healthcare are defined as those that operate in complex, high-risk situations for long periods while managing to avoid serious failures. These organizations are constantly evolving their operations to maintain this high standard and technology is an essential part of this.

Today’s healthcare leaders are more technologically savvy than ever before. And so do their patients. Technology initiatives are essential to improving how providers deliver care, satisfy patient expectations, and meet HRO healthcare standards.

The main principles include:

  • Ensuring access to appropriate data and information
  • Turning best evidence into action
  • Empowering the health care workforce

Health misinformation harms outcomes

Many of the health care change initiatives dating back two decades can be traced to the optimization and coordination of health data. However, until now, so much essential data has remained hidden, unstructured, unstable or proprietary.

Clinicians often need treatment recommendations they can trust that do not yet exist or are not clearly described in the peer-reviewed literature.

Clinicians and patients are also faced with an incessant amount of misinformation that is now so widespread that the World Health Organization has coined it an infodemic. Most guidelines, which clinicians rely on to guide treatment decisions, do not fully acknowledge the poor quality of the data on which they are based.

Health misinformation can damage the patient-clinician relationship and negatively affect health outcomes such as medication adherence. To avoid these threats, high-trust healthcare organizations prioritize full access to professionally sourced data that can be applied in clinical settings.

Balancing science and speed to turn evidence into action

Clinicians make care and management decisions every day, so they must have timely access to guidelines that synthesize the best available evidence augmented by the wisdom of clinical experts and other important sources of information that should have an impact on clinical decision making.

Making the best evidence available in a format that can be used by frontline health care providers has great potential for improving post-pandemic care and saving lives—but only if it’s done right. This includes treating unknown or complex conditions such as infectious diseases and cancers for which therapies are changing rapidly or are still in development.

The best science requires transparency and trust, but for clinicians, this must be balanced with a workable and usable format for the information. The critical components of this balance are:

  • Synthesized evidence
  • Peer review
  • Rigor and speed
  • Recognized expertise
  • Transparency in how data is evaluated and how recommendations are made
  • Easy to find information (workflow integration)

The struggles of healthcare staff are related to digital transformations

Efforts to digitize and standardize healthcare also stem from large gaps in staffing resources and shrinking budgets. In England, NHS hospitals, mental health services and community providers are now reporting a shortage of nearly 94,000 full-time staff, one in 10 nursing vacancies.

The challenge will be to adopt new workforce strategies that promote retention, career development and restorative self-care.

The four workforce imperatives for health care development:

  1. Incorporate training into new delivery models, reflecting team-based and technology-driven care
  2. Anticipate new learning styles – deliver shorter sessions and incorporate new digital technology tools
  3. Address mental health and wellbeing, including proactively engaging healthcare workers in improving the practice environment and workplace culture
  4. Pursue academic and research partnerships that focus on quality

Empowering healthcare through technology

Used correctly, technology can drive more efficient care delivery and training of the HRO healthcare workforce. To learn more, download the eBook, “Using Technology to Become a High-Reliability Healthcare Organization.”

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