I serve at a progressive health system known globally for safety and quality of care all wrapped around patient experience. Since my arrival 18 months ago, I’ve marveled at the processes in place to deliver exceptional care and the extraordinary measures to ensure patient safety. Seeking to optimize our own IT platform and take our services to the next level, I looked no further than my own organization to find tools that worked.
We have since shaped much of IT around the best practices I participate in every day. These include transparency and accountability with all of our outcomes published real-time for our customers to view. Our performance metrics are visible including major incidents and associated root cause analysis. We post our information technology objectives and key results. Every information technology caregiver (employee) rounds with clinicians. The single best practice we leverage is the use of tiered huddles. As our CEO best explained:
“Tiered huddles solve problems in real time. They help us deal with today’s problems today, making our organization a better place to be a patient and a better place to work. Tiered huddles are one way we are working to create a culture where every caregiver is capable, empowered and expected to make improvements every day.”
– Tom Mihaljevic, President and CEO, Cleveland Clinic
Information Technology has four levels of huddles, the first beginning daily at 7:30 a.m. Every leader receives an overnight report that details all problems from the preceding 24 hours to include major and minor incidents. Squad leaders (managers) gather and review and take any actions necessary to address open issues. A short time later, remaining issues make their way to product owners (directors). The resulting report is sent to domain deputies (senior directors) and includes updates of changes in the next 72 hours. The final IT-centric huddle happens at 10 a.m., where the domain leads (Associate CIOs) surface remaining issues facilitated by our service management leader. The report is harmonized and delivered to my inbox by 10:30. That allows me 30 minutes to digest and take any actions before walking into the 11 a.m. enterprise “Tier 6” executive huddle led by our CEO.
I could never imagine operating information technology, let alone a health system, without daily huddles. While I was hesitant at first, the results made me a believer.
The advantages are numerous.
- While my position is largely strategic, I remain in touch with everything taking place in information technology from an operational perspective. The transparency keeps me grounded to ensure I remain engaged with my teams and know how we are performing.
- Through huddles, information technology operational performance has demonstrably improved with all leaders accountable.
- When I walk into our executive huddle, I have thorough knowledge regarding any information technology issues impacting operations. It is not unusual for me to add issues to the discussion that did not surface through hospital and clinician leadership channels.
- The best benefit is the power of what transpires when all organizational leaders sit at the table to solve challenges to ensure the very best in patient safety, quality of care, caregiver and patient experience.
Silos broken, we are a team of teams.