Igniting Collective Excellence

download (1)Earlier this year, a number of the ASPH team were fortunate to attend the International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare, which this year was held in London.  It was a great event, attended by over 3,000 delegates from around the world.

We asked one member of our team, Keshav Nambiar, Leadership Fellow & Registrar in General Surgery to share his experiences and learning from the forum in a short blog, and he had some great insights to share.

It was a privilege and a great opportunity to be able to attend the International Forum as part of a delegation from ASPH.  It was my first forum and in the new role as a Leadership Fellow in Surgery, it was a unique opportunity for me to learn and to develop myself as well as the role, with regard to quality and safety in healthcare.

The overarching theme of ‘Igniting Collective Excellence’ was evident in all aspects of the conference. The various sessions on patient engagement, involvement and empowerment, showed how we are striving to provide the very best patient care possible and there were some amazing examples from across the world – from big name University hospitals in America to local communities being empowered in South East Asia.

As described by Professor Don Berwick and Lord Ara Darzi right at the outset in the first keynote session – ‘It is fantastic that we are talking about partnerships between care delivered and received as well as empowerment of the patient voice and values. Changing the balance of power and driving that change needs to come from the people who are receiving care.’

Throughout the conference the discussions around education and training about quality, safety, patient involvement and experience resonated with me.  The fact that we struggle to use the great resource that is our patients and let their knowledge, their experiences and the power of their stories go to waste is shocking.  The use of patients as teachers was a discussion I personally think that needs to be had more.

We learn from patients in our medical schools, about their conditions and the various medical science relating to them. But seldom do we have a chance to explore the experience, the story of that patient and learn about them to improve their care.  The graduate patient programme mentioned in one of the keynote discussions is something that I think needs to be watched closely.

Some of the sessions I attended included:

  • ‘The future of medication safety in the operating room’ – describing the use of technology and improvement methodology to reduce and prevent errors due to human factors.
  • ‘Restoring joy in work and preventing workforce burnout’ – explaining the importance of having a happy and engaged workforce, encouraging camaraderie and feeling a sense of purpose in order to improve the lives of patients and health of communities.
  • ‘Patients as Partners’ – discussing topics and experiences of patient participating in co-designing solutions as well as setting up coaching academies for quality improvement and patient engagement.

Patients as Partners

The patient representatives that stood on stage in the various sessions to tell us their stories will not be forgotten easily.  The message #wearenotwaiting, is something that comes as a reality check and something that every patient must be thinking.

Forum pt

My learning was that we need to strive to have these conversations with our patients to see how solutions to personal problems could sometimes expand to the relevant populations and communities; how patients have expertise in their own professions apart from their conditions; and that they could improve healthcare with innovations that conventional medicine hasn’t had the opportunity to explore.

Story Telling

I really enjoyed the stories Jason Leitch and Derek Feeley described of taking the problem right to the source. Talking to the young people who were bored and smashing the library windows in Scotland, instead of just continuing to repair the windows.

Similar analogies with stories about cobras in colonial India and rats tails in Vietnam, reaffirmed the notion that finding a solution to a problem doesn’t just involve asking why once, but asking why over and over again till we understand why issues in healthcare occur.

The concept of a ‘power amnesty’ (moving form ‘keeping power’ to ‘sharing power’ and ‘ceding power’) was an interesting concept to hear about as well; one that I think more healthcare leaders need to learn about, and one that could promote a social movement to guarantee quality of care to all patients.

Also, a number of quotes, including ‘heroism is out, humility is in’ were just some of many learning points that I took from the forum and hope to apply into my own, my team and my organisations work.

You can see Jason and Derek’s talk here – https://livestream.com/IFQSH/London2017/videos/155127855

‘The Sky is not the Limit’

The ending note  ‘The sky is not the limit’ from the astronaut Chris Hadfield, was encouraging and I took away two key learning points from his talk on his experiences and the journey that got him there.

Firstly, that failure is not a bad thing.  If you learn from your mistakes and change your behaviour, you can achieve great things.  Secondly, leadership is about challenging yourself about what is impossible now – could it be possible in the future?

The key message I took away from the Forum was reassurance. Reassurance in seeing that in different parts of the world, in every profession involved in healthcare, we all strive for the same things – great quality of care.  But also reassurance that it is ok to fail, so long as you learn from your mistakes and improve upon them.

That so many thousands of people could come together to talk about how to improve healthcare by involving our patients more and ceding the traditional power to help improve their care, was truly eye-opening.   I came away from the forum having learnt a great deal, buzzing with ideas and having met some extraordinary people from all across the world and I am grateful to my team and to the organisation for enabling me to participate in it.


Keshav K Nambiar, Leadership Fellow & Registrar in General Surgery

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