We are all faced with professional situations that sometimes don’t feel “quite right.” There’s an inner voice in all of us that calls us to action when these situations occur. But some people don’t speak up for fear of retaliation or even a fear of inaction (that is, if we do say something, nothing will be done about it).
At Kaiser Permanente, we are building an ethical culture where staff is not only encouraged to speak up, but they can do so in an environment that makes speaking up safe and easy to do. As healthcare technology management (HTM) professionals, this concept is especially important because the products and technology that we support help to save lives. Along with our clinician colleagues, we must be willing to step up and speak up when things aren’t right.
Too often people think that “speaking up” means being a “whistle blower” when you see people doing bad things. However, at Kaiser Permanente our culture views speaking up in a much broader sense. For those of us in clinical technology at Kaiser Permanente, that translates into speaking up when processes or tools prevent us from getting our jobs done on time and on budget, while always putting patient safety first.
While new technological advancements make our jobs as HTM professionals easier, facilitate scientific breakthroughs, and help make healthcare more affordable, they also can create significant risks that can affect patient safety and desired outcomes. When faced with those risks, or when we see evidence that a product, process, or technology has either failed us or has the potential to cause more harm than good, it’s our professional responsibility to speak up. We must have the courage to bring these concerns to light, address them with our HTM teams, and begin the problem-solving process.
At Kaiser Permanente speaking up is not just a compliance requirement; it’s the right thing to do. It empowers all staff do the right thing and support our mission to provide high-quality, affordable healthcare services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. I encourage everyone to embrace this philosophy and incorporate it into your own organizations. Doing so just might be the change that will transform the way you deliver quality care and improve the health of the communities you serve. What do you think?
Carol Davis-Smith, CCE, is vice president of clinical technology at Kaiser Permanente. She is a member of AAMI’s Board of Directors.