From the Chief Medical Officer's Desk
By David Edwards, MD
Health care is changing at a rate that is comparable to the rest of the world. Healthcare IT News reported that the measure of the growth in digital information is growing by zettabytes (one trillion gigabytes- larger than the puny terabytes or petabyes some of us have heard about). They estimated 1.2 zettabytes of new information will be created in 2010. What would that look like?
- That would be created if every man, woman and child on earth was "tweeting" continuously for 100 years.
- Contained within 707 trillion copies of the more than 2,000-page U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed into Law in March 2010. Stacked end to end, the documents would stretch from Earth to Pluto and back 16 times or cover every inch of the United States in paper three feet deep.
This sounds pretty daunting to me and reinforces the need for sound designs in our IT systems, teamwork among health care experts (because no one can know it all anymore) and impeccable communication. Obviously, it also speaks to the complexity of our jobs. Karl Weick and Kathleen Sutcliffe in “Managing the Unexpected”, an excellent book on improving safety in complex systems proposed five factors that improve reliability and safety:
- Preoccupation with Failure
- Reluctance to Simplify
- Sensitivity to Operations
- Commitment to Resilience
- Deference to Expertise
The key is those with expertise may not follow the org chart or traditional educational hierarchies we have followed in the past. We need to remain open minded and mindful that the observations and opinions from non-physicians and even non-clinicians will be important in our clinical processes.
And remember that old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.”