Building and Being Extra: Successes and Failures in Helping at the Frontlines
Event Type
Discussion Panel
TimeThursday, April 153:30pm - 4:30pm EDT
LocationHospital Environments
DescriptionHow does an organization make decisions about the need for change, how it will change, and who will participate in that change? During the COVID-19 pandemic, which is still going as this manuscript is written and published, these are not hypothetical questions to be pondered academically, but ones whose answers are critically important to that organization’s survival. This is an era in which the need for change is unambiguous, but how to change and how fast to change are still quite unclear.

Even more unclear is how to best build a team, both within and across organizations, to plan and implement the decided upon changes. An organization must decide whether it has the right personnel and resources to quickly deploy, or if they need to be repurposed or reassigned from somewhere else in the organization, or if they need to recruited from outside the organization. Moving from deploying to repurposing to recruiting incurs non-trivial costs and risks, but potentially allows for new capabilities to be built much more quickly, allowing the organization to be more agile as challenges emerge. How, then, are our health care organizations making decisions about how to move forward, and how to build their extended, improvised teams?

Our panel is comprised of Human Factors professionals that have been working with healthcare and public health organizations during this COVID-19 pandemic. They have contributed to quickly standing up new capabilities to assess and mitigate community transmission risk. They are also ensuring that those communities’ healthcare facilities are prepared and capable of providing care in the face of increased demand endured during multiple points of the pandemic. They will share short vignettes of successes and failures at being included in COVID-19 related change initiatives, and the successes and failures of those activities. Together, the panel will share patterns revealed across these vignettes of the barriers and facilitators to contributing to change initiatives. These patterns will include the stresses of simultaneously supporting critical new initiatives as well as continuing their previous work.

Raj Ratwani, PhD, director of the MedStar Health National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare, will talk about how his team adapted to assist their organization during the sudden changes as the beginning of the pandemic and the ongoing changes as MedStar’s needs changed.

Shanqing (SQ) Yin, PhD, Assistant Director of Human Factors & Systems Design, KK Women’s & Children’s Hospital, Singapore, will reflect on how his hospital dealt with uncertainties during the pandemic, when COVID-19 was still an unknown coronavirus outbreak. He will share bits of how human factors contributed to hospital operations throughout 2020, but more crucially, discuss factors that helped or hindered effective human factors interventions.

Ken Catchpole, Professor of Human Factors and the SmartState Endowed Chair in Clinical Practice at the Medical University of South Carolina, will share a number of micro-vignettes from both before and during the pandemic of both sustained and unsustained projects, as well as initiatives that he and his team were not able to contribute to.

Shawna Perry, MD will talk about her work in multiple health systems during the pandemic, providing support in a front line clinical role as well as in a patient safety role during the pandemic. She will also talk about how different organizations have asked for and accepted help during the pandemic.

Mike Rayo, Director of the Cognitive Systems Engineering Laboratory at The Ohio State University, will share a collection of vignettes across multiple public health and health care settings, including those that he successfully contributed to and those that rejected his offers of assistance, including at least one of the organizations represented by one of the other panelists! He will also share stories from other health care Human Factors professionals that struggled to contribute to change efforts.

We believe that our panel will highlight not only how our Human Factors professionals have been valuable contributors and partners to prepare our systems and mitigate the negative effects of the pandemic, but also will reveal patterns that will be valuable afterwards. Understanding how to minimize the costs of the intra- and inter-organizational efforts, and increasing their effectiveness, will lead to more resilient health care systems in the future.

Wears RL, Perry SJ. Free Fall – Case Study of Resilience, its Degradation, and Recovery, in an Emergency Department. In: Hollnagel E, Rigaud E, eds. 2nd International Symposium on Resilience Engineering. Juan-les- Pins, France: Mines Paris Les Presses:2006:325-32.