Pit-stop for doctors

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One of the "Ten Faces of Innovation" described in Tom Kelley’s recent book is that of the cross-pollinator, who "can create something new and better through an unexpected juxtaposition of seemingly unrelated ideas or concepts".

Tom is the general manager of TEDPrize supporter IDEO. During a recent talk he mentioned as an example of cross-pollination "taking a group of emergency room doctors to see how Nascar pit-teams work". Time is of essence in both the ER and a car race, and "doctors were impressed by the high level of preparation and coordination of the pit team". Tom explained that while the Nascar teams are perfectly synchronized and approach the car from planned directions and carrying all the necessary tools and parts on them, doctors often enter the ER just to start asking nurses to gather, every time anew, the necessary tools and machines and drugs. Of course there is at least one major difference between the two situations: pit teams can prepare and rehearse for a known situation, while the doctor has first to figure it out. But after the visit, Tom said, at least one hospital started designing ER procedures differently, creating prepackaged toolkits for the most common situations, designing new procedures, and trying to rationalize and better synchronize the movements of medical personnel.

Now the Italian daily Il Giornale has a story on the same topic involving a hospital in Britain, London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, and the pit crew of Italian Formula One top team Ferrari.


The newspaper has Martin Elliott, a surgeon, tell how "until a couple of years ago it was chaotic: there was alot of noise, everyone moved around with no coordination with the others". The Ferrari people filmed the doctors at work, then dissected the images with them. "For years we’ve been convinced that we were doing things pretty well, but seeing the tape it was shocking to notice our lack of coordination", says Nick Pigott of the intensive-care unit. The Ferrarists, explains Il Giornale, gave suggestions on people’s training, disposition, synchronization and how to codify effective and time-saving procedures and routines. Elliott told the journalist that the cross-pollination "has transformed the intensive-care unit in a center of silent precision" where "complications have been substantially reduced".

[Cross-posted on LunchOverIP]