Many hospitals have adopted a safety promotion strategy that involves senior managers visiting hospital departments in an attempt to boost the safety climate and reduce medical errors. However, such strategies, although well-intentioned, may not always have the highest rate of success. According to new research by Howard researchers, the success of such techniques depends very heavily on their approach.
The technique is called Management-by-Walking-around, and it is a widely adopted technique in many hospitals these days. Under the strategy, senior managers visit hospitals in an effort to encourage ideas for improvements in patient safety and resolve safety challenges. However, such management walkabouts actually may do more harm than good.
The study was conducted by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Business School. Earlier research has found such management visits to hospitals can boost the facility’s safety culture, but the Harvard Study finds the effectiveness of such programs depends very strongly on how managers view such programs. The Harvard researchers say their evidence indicates managers must not view the strategies purely based on the evidence of their success in just a few hospitals. Managers must try to understand what makes the practice effective in other hospitals in order to see success using these strategies in their own organization.
Management-by-Walking-around has been lifted from the manufacturing industry and many hospitals in the United States currently adopt these techniques. The goal is to reduce the incidence of medical errors and improve patient safety and care. The Harvard researchers found such strategies have a negative effect on nurses’ perception of performance. They also found managers spent far too much time analyzing the problems they saw, without taking action to solve them.