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Home : News : News
NEWS | Aug. 10, 2015

High Reliability Organization course helps Army Medicine leaders


“The nature of healthcare is a complex, risk-filled human endeavor, full of uncertainty. Healthcare is emotionally charged, stressful and high stakes endeavor due to the uncertainty of a patient’s reaction to treatment,” said Maj. Gen. Steve Jones, commanding general, U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School, U.S. Army Health Readiness Center of Excellence at Fort Sam Houston.


During the first High Reliability Organization Quality and Safety Short Course taught at the Fort Sam Houston Community Center July 19-23, Jones noted that Army Medicine influences the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world, often in austere, extreme conditions.


“Army Medicine requires leaders who are disciplined and make right decisions adding that good leaders provide teams the purpose, direction and motivation required for safe, effective healthcare,” Jones added.


He explained that teamwork must be based on trust, shared vision and command understanding and emphasized that commander’s intent is the basis of mission command and is important for commanders to visualize and describe the mission while clearly articulating expected behavior.


Jones said the focus of an HRO is safe, reliable performance and referred to the practice of strategies, and tools to enhance performance and patient safety or TeamSTEPPS. TeamSTEPPS is a teamwork system designed for health care professionals.


Based on performance, knowledge and attitudes, the TeamSTEPPS model encourages the patient care team to incorporate leadership, communications, situation monitoring and mutual support principles to improve quality of care. It is the key enabler of Army Medicine’s “Culture of Trust” with deference to expertise and not organizational hierarchy or rank to achieve zero preventable harmful events.


Course attendance included a total of 103 operational level leaders and managers from across each regional health command, Forces Command, and Army Dental Command. The course integrated Arbinger leadership training, HRO principles and imperative, as well as Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt training.  


During a command summit in June, Lt. Gen Patricia Horoho, Army Surgeon General and commanding general, U.S. Army Medical Command, told assembled leaders that achieving high reliability organizations requires processes that are consistent.


“Achieving an HRO is a journey that requires leaders looking at the environment, how it is changing, adapting, and achieving the highest standards possible.”


Status quo is not an option, she emphasized.


“We need to look at where we need to improve to be better enablers for our Army today and in the future,” Horoho said.

Horoho noted the importance of acquiring the cognitive ability and knowledge to thrive, to think faster than our adversaries and look at our pattern of behavior where we have become complacent about needed improvement in order to achieve the strategic advantage.


Noting that Army Medicine is in the business of health readiness and MEDCOM organizations are health readiness platforms, she highlighted Army medicine’s role, in diplomacy during the Ebola response medical personnel in Africa proving we have Soldiers ready to do a job in an austere and variable environment.


“The role of the AMEDDC&S, HRCoE, is to incorporate HRO principles in the course curricula at all levels of training and education using the Army Learning Model,” said Col. Denise Hopkins-Chadwick, Directorate of Training and Academic Affairs.


Incorporating HRO in the academic environment means insuring faculty have mastery of course content, course content is relevant and instruction is taught in the appropriate environment. The challenge for the AMEDDC&S, HRCoE is to re-imagine, re-think, reinforce and reinvest the practices of an HRO in the pursuit of envisioning, designing, educating, training and inspiring a premier military medical force.