Within healthcare (and in lots of other industries) technology can enable improved efficiency and performance. However, any improvements need to consider the way of working as well as the technology itself. Simply assuming that a system or device will lead to a positive change can lead to issues. One always has to start with the question ‘what problem are we trying to solve’?
Being clear from the outset as to the nature of the problem can really helpful in evaluating whether a system/device will be suitable. If there is an issue with communication with team members is buying them all iPads going to solve the issue? Potentially, but thought needs to be given as to what information needs to be shared, which apps they will use, is there a better / simpler wave of solving the problem (ie scheduling a daily huddle).
By clearly defining an issue, it will be much easier to translate to companies/developers/engineers who may be tasked to build/deliver a solution. It is perfectly possible to build an excellent piece of software which still fails to solve the underlying problem. Sometimes this only becomes apparent when the target users start using it and complain.
Knowing the why also allows testing throughout the development/procurement process. At each stage asking ‘is this solving our initial problem’ can keep you on track and avoid getting sidelined by ‘look what else it can do!’
How do you find out the why?
- Talk to the people involved i.e. frontline clinical staff. You may be surprised as to what their needs are.
- Understand how your organisation currently functions.
- Learn from previous technology rollouts – what worked and what didn’t.
- Map out how things will be different in the future – why should anything change. What will be the clear benefits (improved efficiency is to general a term – exactly how will efficiency occur)
Working in this way is hard. It’s much easier to find a product and purchase it or develop something you think would be great. However, by following the latter approach you run the risk of delivering something that may be underused, cause issues and/or be labelled a failure!