Keeping Innovation Simple

Today’s student discussions about the Lewis Blackman case focused on ways that students might be able to affect change or address safety concerns as members of a clinical team.  Drawing on our various clinical experiences, we offered suggestions on how to ask an innocent (but important!) question or standardize hand-offs.

In reflecting on today’s discussions, I can’t help but remember my dad telling my eight-year-old self:  “KISS: Keep It Simple, Sir”.  Healthcare immerses us in complexity, whether through patients with multiple comorbidities or new technological tools.  Caught up in the whirlwind of elaborate innovation, we sometimes lose sight of the most elementary tools that can improve patient care.  Today, students offered simple ideas: a pad and paper for patient questions, a photo directory of the clinical team posted in a patient’s room, a common form for daily hand-offs.  Such tools neither require tremendous financial investments nor do they incorporate the newest hi-tech computer systems.  They are practical solutions that attack the more subtle elements of patient safety.  They are solutions that might affect great change, in spite of their “simplicity”.