"To me, teamwork is one of the most important aspects of good hospital management. You may have seen F1 pit stop videos which show the tyres of a racing car being changed in mere seconds. To achieve such synchronised teamwork, everyone needs to know their job well, and work together harmoniously without getting in each other’s way."
By Alson GohChief Operating Officer, KKH
My 22 years of hospital management experience started in a private hospital setting but I have spent more time working in public hospitals, with more than 10 years in SingHealth. Trained as an engineer, I have a very practical approach to things.
To me, teamwork is one of the most important aspects of good hospital management. You may have seen F1 pit stop videos which show the tyres of a racing car being changed in mere seconds. To achieve such synchronised teamwork, everyone needs to know their job well, and work together harmoniously without getting in each other’s way.
The same case is true in healthcare. No healthcare professional can provide the best holistic care on his/her own. Just like how the public would not know the names of the pit stop crew delivering an F1 driver to victory, not many people would know the names of staff supporting a patient’s attending physician. This does not make such staff any less important. The staff, as part of the team, plays essential roles to ensure that our care delivery system runs smoothly.
In hospital management we need to think before we leap. When I was with the National University Hospital during the SARS crisis, I was asked to help improve the triaging situation as there were long queues everyday with very unhappy patients and visitors. Initially, when I saw the long queue, I instinctively donned my PPE and jumped in to help clear the queue. After three hours, the queue did not improve much. I spent the next 1 hour observing the queue, workflow and layout.
That evening, we redesigned and reorganised the triage layout, incorporating separate queues, simplified forms and barcode scanners to speed up registration. That day I learnt that system improvement is more important than just increasing resources or working harder.
Another important aspect of good hospital management is process optimisation at total systems level. A healthcare leader should not be myopic and just focus on optimising the processes within their own functional area. He should consider the impact on others, and most importantly, focus on patient outcome.
"That day I learnt that system improvement is more important than just increasing resources or working harder."
As healthcare leaders, we need to have a vision of what healthcare should be, not what it is now. One way to help achieve this vision is to exploit and leverage on technology, and reengineer the whole patient experience for meaningful improvement.
One of the technologies I am exploring is the use of radio-frequency identification (RFID). In the outpatient setting, it can be used to track patient movement to cut down registration and waiting time. This will also be very useful for contact tracing in the event of disease outbreak. For inpatient setting, we can use it for an integrated approach to protect our vulnerable patients in the hospital.
These are just some of my views in good hospital management. I am always on the lookout for ways to improve and break new ground.
Mr Alson Goh has experience spanning from engineering, hospital operations and administration to corporate planning in private and public healthcare. He has served in hospitals including Mt Elizabeth Hospital, NUH, KKH and NHCS.
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