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About lzipperer

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    Patient safety and knowledge sharing entrepreneur that helps experts "get things done!"
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    Zipperer Project Management
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  1. Content Article
    There is a lot to be uncertain about these days: school, work, health, family. However, in July one thing was certain: the streaming release of “Hamilton” in the US was going to be epic. The acclaimed musical production tells the story of a U.S. founding father Alexander Hamilton, intensely American, exploring themes of love, anger, arrogance, heroism, betrayal, mistakes, politics, policy, devotion, family, sacrifice and death. In some ways, it sounds like healthcare in the era of COVID-19. While months of the coronavirus pandemic are behind us, the uncertainties caused by the pace of change and the expected surge of further infection spread bring continued stress, fear and frustration. Disruptions to services, processes and relationships are rampant. They demand continued experimentation across healthcare to address concerns to keep patients, communities and healthcare workers safe. And the lack of a coordinated collective policy response to the crisis only perpetuates discomfort about the unreliability of actions to improve safety and the substantial costs the future holds in store. Ambiguities and dread due to the pandemic are problematic and will be for some time. Continued patient avoidance of care is evident and could be contributing to lack of timely care and diagnosis. An ImproveDx article summarises how fear is keeping patients from getting the care they need, and highlights the importance of recognising that rebuilding trust will take time. To anchor this effort, leaders must view risk as individuals see it rather than just an academic exercise to inform reentry strategies in the months to come. The unsettled nature of care and access to loved ones during COVID can make end-of-life planning particularly fraught with uncertainty. Stanford University School of Medicine has developed the GOOD framework for clarifying steps forward when working with patients and families facing palliative care decisions during the pandemic. Its four elements – Goals, Options, Opinions and Documentation – provide an effective structure for clinicians to have conversations with patients and families to address care management when the path forward is unclear. Prolonged uncertainty can degrade healthcare staff mental and physical health. In Hawaii, one health system sought to make antibody testing available to staff as a strategy to decrease anxiety and improve sensemaking around the crisis. Hawai`i Pacific Health in NEJM Catalyst explores the reasons why those who were tested opted into the programme. The authors found “curiosity” to be a primary motivator. Knowing something – whether positive or not – can reduce one aspect of uncertainty, which the article posits will help clinicians and their community think beyond the doubt to achieve a modicum of control. This single piece of stability will enable a willingness to gather information, to plan and to act. Despite the challenge uncertainty brings, there are individuals who consistently believe the future holds promise. People who are able to act and make a difference despite uncertainty. Much has been said about those in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, but others continue to address persistent uncertainties and unreliableness of care – beyond the pressures of the pandemic. There are many whose tenacity shores up the foundations of the healthcare system to improve its safety. One such leader from the US, John Eisenberg MD, is celebrated every year through an award programme in his name. John was a founding father of patient safety in the US. Through his leadership, national research and improvement programmes were developed and funded to lead government efforts to improve quality and safety. In July for the first time, the John Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Awards were bestowed virtually. These awards recognise individuals, local efforts and national programmes whose work provides evidence of the value and commitment to engage in work to improve safety. This year’s recipients demonstrated values core to improvement and perseverance in their work toward achieving healthcare that is safe. The awardees have accomplishments that focused on diagnostic error and sepsis reduction. Each of these stories started in tests and trials motivated by commitment to getting healthcare to a better place. For example, Tennessee-headquartered HCA Healthcare was recognised for its SPOT (Sepsis Prediction and Optimization of Therapy) algorithm as a mechanism to identify sepsis quickly to enhance quality and patient safety. Through this enhanced use of technology, SPOT uses basic laboratory and clinical data in real time to provide teams with the information they needed to reduce sepsis mortality across their 173-hospital system. Data triggered alerts that initiated actions to decrease response times by approximately 6 hours rather than relying on shift change as the information sharing mechanism. The SPOT algorithm enhancement to the electronic medical record partnered well with existing sepsis management processes to arrive at improvements. In the climax of Hamilton’s first act, the battle of Yorktown culminates in a chorus of “the world turned upside down”, with the hope that the cacophony will ultimately result in a new country with new freedoms only imagined prior to crisis. It is certain that COVID disruptions will continue to test us all worldwide. Can we challenge ourselves, our peers and our leaders to experiment as necessary to confront COVID-19 while guaranteeing that what was learned will be used to create something better?
  2. Content Article
    “There's no such thing as the unknown—only things temporarily hidden, temporarily not understood.” James T. Kirk, Captain, Starship Enterprise. Star Trek, Season 1: The Corbomite Maneuver. Leading a large enterprise isn’t easy. Vision, compassion, humility, curiosity and adaptability are required attributes for those in charge to keep moving forward during times of relative calm or uncertainty. The stress and tragedy that accompanies catastrophic events can reduce the resolve and effectiveness of even the most accomplished leaders. Unprecedented large-scale situations, such as the Hurricane Katrina landfall or the September 11th terrorist attacks, reveal gaps in understanding that may not have been apparent before the disaster. These blind spots can dismantle the reserve of a leader and their team to culminate in poor decisions, inaction and organisational dysfunction. The COVID-19 pandemic is such an event. Rules are being mindfully adjusted to respond to the litany of process, clinical, financial and political disruptions healthcare workers must grapple with as they face the uncertain conditions of their patients, communities and themselves. It is incumbent on leaders to create stability by addressing these unknowns. Leaders within hospitals, social care organisations and within the public health spectra need to make immediate process adjustments to optimise effort, realise opportunities for improvement and learn to be resilient. They need to arrive at understanding while simultaneously managing challenges that emerge from the strained system to keep their enterprise on track. They need to do this by paying attention to safety culture, transformation and innovation, and will need tools and resources to do so. Leadership must build a culture to keep patients and workers safe. Leader’s communications and actions are core to the implementation of safe working conditions to provide the best care possible during a crisis. Yet, a Gallup poll of US healthcare workers found a lack of understanding of their organisation’s COVID-19 plan and lack of belief that safety policies in place will support their safe return to work. To address this gap, experts recommend leaders three steps to a better safety culture: use formal and informal mechanisms to explicitly communicate what the organisation is doing to keep staff informed and safe during the pandemic enlist their managers to implement policies, create opportunities to align the work of management and hold managers accountable to implement and sustain current practice and procedure talk to their people. Keeping an open dialogue through the use of established mechanisms such as ‘rounding’ can solicit insights and raise concerns to enhance the safety of teams and patients. Leadership must see opportunities to transform systems: COVID-19 has presented leaders with immense responsibility to act, adjust quickly as required and use those process changes to improve the overall system of care post-pandemic in preparation for the next unprecedented challenge. Geisinger Health System leaders in their article, 'How one health system is transforming in response to Covid-19' share the experience of designing their emerging COVID response to reliably innovate rather than only react. Leaders examined core system business concerns such as pharmacy and information technology by bringing together multidisciplinary groups that dismantled silos. Teams worked together using scenario planning to fully consider how restoring care processes, entering new work phases, preparing for the second wave and restoring financial viability would affect patients and employees. Leadership must use evidence and collective knowledge to adapt: The Journal of Public Health and Management Practice shares recommendations for leaders to meet COVID-19 stressors successfully. The article suggests leaders communicate well, be decisive, lead without hierarchy, remain proactive and take care of themselves to protect others. For example, to lead across a system seek expertise from a variety of organisational and environmental elements. Working with government officials, staff and peers can form collaborations, solidify shared purpose and distribute responsibility to serve a community well in crisis. Public health is a core partner in understanding how to guide, motivate and inspire change to enhance a collective response to COVID-19 and upcoming health threats. Clinicians in patient-facing leadership roles also exhibit these behaviours as their roles shift to manage crisis. The perspective of a New York cardiologist leading a COVID-19 infections disease service illustrates how the transfer of tacit knowledge around deliberate leadership observed daily while coordinating the service shaped his views on leadership and his ability to lead. Being emotionally available was a core characteristic that helped to express grief, exhibit vulnerability and openly share concerns, giving the experience the humanness it needed. This was important not only in his ability to mature as a leader but to demonstrate the empathy needed to get his team through the challenges at hand. James T Kirk knew how to lead. He sought consensus, learned from mistakes, yet acted as necessary to keep his crew safe, engaged and aligned with the organisational mission. He sought partners across the federation as needed. Kirk could be firm, decisive, yet empathetic. Have health leaders done similarly to protect staff, patients and the community, while gaining experience during COVID-19 to apply over time to enrich the care system at large and boldly go to a better, safer future?
  3. Community Post
    I suggest the US-based Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) newsletters: https://www.ismp.org/newsletters The flagship publication for the acute care environment makes its featured articles available for free.