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Institute for Healthcare Improvement challenges change

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In a recent edition of The McKinsey Quarterly, they tell how the story of one women inspired an organization that would lead to saving 10,000 lives. Sorrel King's daughter died in a hospital due to preventable errors that occurred from her care in the hospital.

Institute for Healthcare Improvement found a way to make innovating easier rather than harder on hospitals that were in their program. By simply looking at the "ergonomics," they gave hospitals ways to save lives. They focused on simple things that could help front-line nurses give simple, yet better care to their patients. This initiative saved over 10,000 lives.

The six rules they focused on were:

  • allow any staff member to call on a rapid-response team to treat patients showing signs of rapid decline
  • provide evidence-based care, including the early use of aspirin and beta-blockers, for heart attack patients
  • develop a list of steps to prevent bloodstream infections related to the use of central venous catheters
  • take simple steps, including frequent and careful hand washing, to reduce the number of surgical on-site infections
  • keep accurate records of the drugs patients take
  • take steps to prevent ventilator-associated pneumonia

This organization began to provide tools and training to the hospitals that would help these six things begin to take place on a regular basis. They found new staff that would help the innovative initiatives to save lives. They began to place experienced hospitals with those just adapting the program to provide encouragement and first-hand experience. There was also a weekly conference call that served as a live forum to help share ideas of participating hospitals.

What this program found was that innovation can spread quickly, especially when those leading the organization focus on spreading the ideas to encourage change. By one woman stepping up and having a desire to teach hospital staffs how their equipment can better function, she's helped save lives. What's stopping your organization from spreading your ideas?

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