The Next Wave of Hospital Innovation to Make Patients Safer, is the title of a paper published by the Harvard Business Review in August of 2016. In the article, the authors argue convincingly that the age of major technical innovation to preserve patient safety is over. Furthermore, that the wave or process improvement and the creation of standardized work has taken patient safety as far is it will go. The next wave of innovation will come from, “ paying attention too how individuals interact with one another and organize their day-to-day work”. They go on to say that health care organizations will have to monitor “actual behaviors, practices, and interactions that unfold between people as they care for patients and manage the organization”.
These statements, in our view, only confirm the validity of seeing leadership as a system so that the system can be designed to produce a desired outcome.
If patient safety is the desired outcome, making the primary purpose of a leadership system will turn the entire leadership structure toward this objective. The authors call it “high reliability organizations” and from their descriptions this means organizations that focus on the interactions of core organizational elements – the workforce, information and patients. An organization that is highly reliable sounds like one where all systems are structured and organized to achieve a principle focus, vision, or mission. This will take a leadership system that is similarly focused.