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CEO’s Editorial – 16th August 2019
A big theme for me this week has been choice – something celebrated and encouraged by our society, because it gives us the ability to customise things to meet our needs.
Have you heard about ‘Overchoice’ ? It’s where decision making becomes too difficult because there are too many options. Alvin Toffler introduced the concept of ‘Overchoice’ in his book ‘Future Shock’, noting that as the choice turns to ‘overchoice’, ‘freedom of choices’ becomes an “unfreedom”. More choice also increases the time taken to make decisions and from an economic perspective there are the additional costs associated with offering multiple choices.
It was being overloaded with travel options that got me thinking about this. Shall I drive or take public transport? What route should I take? What time shall I go? I even got to the point where I had 3 different Sat Nav apps I could choose from! A classic case of ‘overchoice’.
Our world of health and social care is full of choices, for both the professionals working in it and those receiving services. We deal with this in several ways, including through standards and standardisation.
On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of visiting one of our IHM members, Squadron Leader Jen Hutton at the Tactical Medical Wing (TMW) (there is also a great CBBC ‘Operational Ouch’ video about their work !) – the operational hub for RAF medical services. One of the ‘stand out’ points of the visit for me was how much standardisation is used within TMW, in order to respond in a timely and effective way to very challenging situations. More, I would say, than is used in NHS and wider public sector. We’ll be working with Jen and colleagues to bring you thoughts about how we can do some ‘cross sector’ sharing and learning in the future.
Thursday was the first time I attended the British Standards Institute’s Healthcare Organization Management Committee, which I’ve just joined to represent our IHM membership. As many of you will know, its purpose is to use standards to embed excellence in the way people and products work. We’ll soon be providing some information and a webinar about BSI, including how it links into the International Organization for Standardisation (ISO) and the role we can play to support this work.
There is a balance to be had between freedom to choose and standardisation. How can we best decide where this balance lies? By focusing on value. Weighing up the resources needed (money, time, effort) against the outcomes delivered. Does the outcome delivered through personalisation/customisation warrant the resource it will take? Essentially, is it worth it?
My focus this weekend will be on how I can use ‘value’ more to help me decide what to standardise and where to apply my energy in considering options. I don’t think I’ll be going to the extreme of having 5 identical workday outfits, but I’m sure that there are things I can change so I’m not unnecessarily using time making ‘low value’ decisions.
Wishing you a reflective, restful and enjoyable weekend.