MidStaff.300Following the revelation of alarming breakdowns in quality and patient safety at Mid Staffordshire Trust in England, the British government commissioned the National Advisory Group on the Safety of Patients in England to explore key issues and map out an improvement plan. Led by Don Berwick, President Emeritus and Senior Fellow with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, the independent advisory group published its findings in a landmark report, A Promise to Learn – A Commitment to Act.

Maureen Bisognano, President and CEO with IHI, who served alongside Berwick on the committee, outlined in a recent blog post to Leading Health Care Innovation, a new online collaboration between the editors of Harvard Business Review and The New England Journal of Medicine, three takeaways from Mid Staff’s crises that can benefit even the best hospitals in the world:

  1. Close the communication gap between leadership and front-line staff.
    As with most hospitals today, Mid Staff’s leadership was chronically focused on finances and  lost its connection to patient care. They stayed as far away from the wards as they could get, and in turn, their out-of-sight-out-of-mind approach prevented access to valuable expert knowledge. When leadership listens to staff, processes can be improved and barriers can be removed.
  2. Measure your organization’s overall level of quality by asking four questions.
    By asking simple questions, like these, leaders can begin to identify appropriate priorities while nurturing feelings of pride as well as an organization-wide desire to learn:
    Do you know how good you are?
    Do you know where you stand relative to the best?
    Do you know where the variation exists?
    Do you know the rate of improvement over time?
  3. Listen to patients and their family members.
    Again, distracted by financial worries, Mid Staff stopped paying attention, across the board, and the consequences were devastating. Seeking out input from patients and families is critical, but having processes in place that allow the organization to respond to needs and resolve issues is paramount.

To read the advisory group’s report, A Promise to Learn – A Commitment to Actclick here.