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Enhanced Healthcare System Design

Enhanced healthcare system design is the key to quality improvement, says ICRE 2016 headliner Dr. Paul B. Batalden

ICRE Royal CollegeAccording to one of the most well-known – and talked about – quotes from Paul B. Batalden, MD, “every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.”

This seemingly simple idea has resonated with quality improvement (QI) movements around the world, as it becomes increasingly evident that the only way to truly enhance healthcare quality – and ultimately health outcomes – is to redesign the healthcare system, itself.

Internationally renowned QI expert Dr. Batalden will share his own experiences with the quality movement and healthcare system redesign during the 2016 International Conference on Residency Education (ICRE).

For Dr. Batalden, improving the value of the contribution that healthcare services might make to overall health is at the crux of what the quality improvement movement is all about.

“A systems understanding of work helps us see that the work we do involves other people, behaviors, information technology, in relationship for a shared purpose,” said Dr. Batalden. “When we do ‘get’ that, we realize that if we seek change, it is that system which must be understood and modified.”

He said that as a part of ultimate healthcare system changes, increased flexibility and individualization needs to be built into the way that healthcare systems structure and deliver services to patients.

“We, and our language about the work we do, have been captured by a ‘product-dominant’ discourse. So we make what we call a healthcare service like one would make a product: ‘I make it, you buy it,’” said Dr. Batalden.

“We labor under models of value-creation that work for manufacturing and products, rather than creating more flexible models that fit the need for particularization and flexibility.”

While medical education and training in North America is continually being improved and enhanced in the 21st century, Dr. Batalden said that a more intersectional approach to QI– one that involves transforming systems themselves – is crucial.

“I believe that until we link better outcomes, better system performance and better professional development, we will not have sustainable, generative improvement of healthcare services,” he said.

This article is courtesy of the Royal College. Visit the ICRE website to find out more about Dr. Batalden and his perspectives on quality improvement.

Dr. Batalden’s closing plenary takes place Saturday, October 1, 2016 (16:00 – 17:30) in Niagara Falls, Ont.

author: Melissa Nilan