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Communication and Checklists

I’ve been thinking about communication … a lot. How well people communicate (or don’t communicate) is what drives nearly every problem, either at work or at home. Communication is essential to a feeling of team which can help to avoid communication problems in the first place. Once you feel like you are on a team, I think it’s easier to engage in communication because you feel more comfortable asking questions, posing challenges when needed, and generally being happier with your surroundings.

I’m almost finished with Atul Gawande’s book The Checklist Manifesto and what struck me the most about it was the fact that checklists used by pilots, construction crews, and surgeons all had one thing in common. They forced communication amongst disparate people helping to start the formation of bonds that lead to a team.

Whether constructing a 32 floor high rise building, flying a 747 or performing open heart surgery, these are all complex problems and they all have checklists.

The use of these checklists help the practitioners focus on what’s important by using the checklist to remind them of what needs to be done but is easily forgotten.

All of this is interesting, but you can get to a ‘so what’ or ‘and …’ point.

While reading Data silos holding back healthcare breakthroughs, outcomes this line caught my attention:

However, the MIT researchers contend that the health data divide can be narrowed by creating a culture of collaboration between clinicians and data scientists

Here’s the ‘so what’ point of all of this. Using Big Data to help patients should be what the healthcare industry is focusing on. But this is difficult because Clinicians and Data Scientists don’t always have the vocabulary nor the incentives to collaborate in a meaningful way that leads to improved patient outcomes.

Could check lists for implementing Big Data at various types and sizes of organizations help? I think so, because at the very least, it could start the neccesary conversations needed to engender a sense of team between Clinicians and Data Scientists which can be sorely lacking in many institutions.

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