Often, when giving talks to health care professionals about the urgent need to improve patient safety and quality, I ask them to do an exercise. At the beginning of the talk, they write down “I will…” on a piece of paper. As the talk comes to a close, the audience is urged to complete that sentence—saying what they will do to make the patient experience safer, better and more respectful. The goal is not just to have an interesting talk, but rather it is to change something that leads to improvement.
Hopefully, this leads some people to adopt new behaviors and change their approach to care. But it is really on them—they have to hold themselves accountable.
In the United Kingdom, there is a program that takes a similar concept, but on a nationwide scale. It is called Change Day, it began in 2013, when the National Health Service asked health care professionals across the nation to pledge one thing that they would do to improve care. It’s an opportunity for people to commit to improvement, as well as a chance for participants across the country to share ideas. In a twist, this year’s Change Day, on Wednesday, is asking people to share one action that they have already done to improve care. They can submit their actions to the Change Day website, and are then encouraged to use social media to share what they have done.
I haven’t participated in Change Day, of course. From this side of the Atlantic, the general concept is one that I think would benefit us in the United States (and elsewhere). This week is Patient Safety Awareness Week, but just as the name implies, it is about raising the issue in the public eye, without clear mechanisms for producing action. I would be thrilled if we could get health care professionals—as well as patients—to convene online for a day or more and share their wisdom and experiences.
If there is one constant theme in patient safety and quality improvement, it is that frontline staff are the ones who best know what is wrong with how we deliver care. They often have innovative suggestions for how to remedy those problems. Any mechanism that we can find to spread those ideas from the unit or clinic to larger audiences can help us all to learn from one another.