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Learning from healthcare

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Professor Samer Faraj, Canada Research Chair in Technology, Management and Healthcare at the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University, Montreal, talked about his studies of staff working at hospitals dealing with emergencies, and how the oil and gas industry might be able to learn from that.

Professor Faraj did a study of the R AdamsCowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, near Washington DC, which claims to be the only integrated trauma hospital in the US.

The centre employs 250 specialists, and is proud of a survival rate of 97 per cent. It deals with a wide variety of problems.

It has a focus on treating people within an hour of having a shock, because if the body is not treated within an hour after a shock, the body goes into a deeper shock, he said. 'Timing is crucial. We have a very narrow window for treatment.'

His conclusion, which is maybe something the oil and gas industry can learn from, was that the best way to get a good outcome was simply 'to get the best people, put them in a team, give them the best resources, you have good outcome,' he said.

People are organised into 'communities of practise', such as surgery. But there are no teams as such, people don't know who they will be working with from one day to the next.

'I don't feel they were operating as a team,' he said. 'Organising as their own community of practise works better.'

There's a manual with rough protocols which should be followed, but there are also many cases when people don't have time to follow all the procedures in the protocol, he said.

'When individuals with different expertise have to collaborate, the process cannot be specified ahead of time.'

The expertise includes both 'knowhow' and 'know-what', he said. There are two possible structures to any organisation, the unambiguous chain of command (military style) or the delegated
decision matrix, where people can make their own decisions. 'We've never settled on which one is better, most organisations have a bit of both,' he said.

A collaboration on the fly is known as 'dialogic' collaboration. Perhaps 'dialogic collaboration' would be a good concept for the oil and gas industry, he said.

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