“Welcome, welcome, welcome, you’re an engineer with experience in safety and quality systems and continuous improvement. We need people like you!”
That was three years ago.
However, fitting into the healthcare culture as a consumer representative turned out to be more challenging than first imagined, and offering to share my insights and experience in “High-Reliability Organisations” felt like I was offering to share the plague.
My experience of the health system to date is that the status quo is viewed as the lowest risk option and hence is favoured by the majority of the people in charge. They seem too overwhelmed with managing existing budgets, staffing and KPIs to be able to sit back and think about change and improvement. Hence, life as a consumer rep can be quite disheartening.
Somehow I managed to win one of ISQua’s inaugural patient inclusion scholarships, enabling me to attend the 35th annual conference in Kuala Lumpur.
Not expecting to be included, let alone contribute, I adopted a voyeuristic strategy to watch, listen and learn, then eat, drink and meet a few people. This rapidly went awry, apparently, I was expected to participate. The scholarship winners were to present our experiences in patient centred care. Oh! and they wanted me to chair a session, and participate in a debate “Should patients own patient’s data?” with people who have ‘Director’ and ‘Professor’ on their business cards. Calm voyeurism turned to anxious trepidation.
My first session, “Massive Ageing and the Tsunami of Consequences for Safety and Quality in Healthcare” totally changed my outlook. Maybe it was that their thoughts aligned with mine and that I was able to actively contribute to the discussion, and that my viewpoints were respected. My voyeuristic strategy and level of trepidation was utterly replaced by a sense that I was a valued part of a larger vision:
- The near future represents a massive challenge for healthcare systems on many fronts including population growth, ageing, chronic lifestyle diseases and the increasing rate of technology development that is out accelerating healthcare.
- These current thought leaders in our health systems openly admit that they do not know the answer to these problems.
- They emphasized that we all need to work together to find solutions.
- The resolution of these issues lies in working on and trying to improve the culture of healthcare.
I had never really experienced this tone and attitude before, but that sense, established in the first session, continued through the entire conference and was inspiring.
Similarly, the same sense and passion were evident in the many people I encountered. Irrespective of nationality, culture, religion, language or our chosen professions or challenges, the “ISQua family” and those present were an absolute inspiration as to what humanity truly should be about - working together to help improve the lives of others. I truly thank ISQua for this amazing opportunity.
As evidenced by the result of the debate, (we were robbed), there is still an enormous amount of work to do in the patient centred care space, but it is truly encouraging to know that some big leaders and lots of individuals are listening.
Once again, thank you!
P.S. Did you hear that the winner of the 90 seconds “Dragon’s Den” innovation pitch, judged and awarded by the amazing Cliff Hughes, was an engineer!