Black Box Thinking for the Healthcare Sector

A few months back I wrote a blog that touched upon Mathew Syed’s book – ‘Black Box Thinking’.

It discusses the “willingness and tenacity to investigate thelessons that often exist when we fail, but which we rarely exploit.” Furthermore, “It is about creatingsystems and cultures that enable organizations to learn from errors, ratherthan being threatened by them.” The blog, that explored the impact ofdigital transformation within healthcare, highlighted the differing nature of thehealthcare industry and the aviation industry. Unlike the aviation industry andtheir indestructible black box, the healthcare industry still uses legacysystems and old-fashioned reporting techniques of pen and paper, an inefficient and at times inconsistent process.

Every year, the NHS reports near to 2 million incidents into their investigation systems. Like the black box in an airplane the end goal is to learn from mistakes and prevent the same incident in happening again. However, incident reporting in healthcare is unlike the aviation industry. Each hospital has a differing level of reporting, based on differing cultures and practices. Each hospital has their own interpretation and expectation of a serious incident report and battle with their own process of reporting and analysing incidents, leading to many inconsistent reports and missed opportunities.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspects healthcare service providers. In serious incident reporting, many hospitals are now being marked as in the category that ‘requires improvement’. For example:

 “The trust had not always managed patientsafety incidents well. This was because serious incidents had not always beenreported and investigated in line with the NHS England Serious IncidentFramework 2015 or trust policy so that improvements were made to reduce therisk of similar incidents happening again.”

This is only one example out of many and uncovers the difficulties that many hospitals face.

Eva is the product of the partnership between Verita and Microsoft, who came together to explore the power of AI to improve healthcare safety. Eva sits upon Dynamics 365 and acts as a tool to record incidents when they happen. Leveraging AI and machine learning it gives clinicians the ability to record, log and track multiple incidents and offers reporting capabilities so that the data can be analysed and assessed. These reports will identify emerging patterns of incidents on a local and national level. These patterns, assimilated by Eva’s machine learning, will highlight thematic trends quickly and easily to provide insight into risk.

It is estimated that billions of pounds are lost due to legal claims against the NHS and healthcare providers. Eva will give organisations the ability to identify themes and understand where risk lies within their hospitals. Ultimately, Eva aims to reduce litigation claims by improving serious incident reporting and learning from mistakes. Further benefits would come from reduced training fees for clinicians and through the reduction of time that comes with reporting some of these incidents.

Microsoft have seen a real space for AI in healthcare and although it is at its early stages we are starting to see new technologies emerge that are leveraging AI. If organisations explore such technologies, then we may see a vast improvement in how we enact many timely processes within the industry. In a recent article written by Dr Simon Kos, Microsoft Chief Medical Officer, he states “In today’s post-EHR health environment, the amount of data generated by digitization is staggering. Dozens of systems feed data across healthcare organizations daily, and IDC predicts that health data volumes will continue to grow at a rate of 48% annually.[1] Yet, despite advances toward becoming a data-rich and data-driven industry, medical errors are still the third-leading cause of death in the US alone.” This is an alarming statistic and shows the problem at hand.

Our hope is to help ease these errors using technology. Eva is built upon Microsoft Dynamics and allows for clear and precise data management and storage. Much like the black box in aviation, Eva records, manages and processes data so that we can learn from our mistakes. With this learning we can begin to grow and enact processes in a better and more structured way. Microsoft and Verita have built a solution that can ease the burden on healthcare providers and ultimately save lives. Eva will help mitigate risk and support clinicians to investigate serious incidents. Giving clinicians the technology to help ease their job and pressure on them must be a priority. “The 2019 Gartner CIO Survey shows healthcare provider CIOs will leverage investments in AI, machine learning and advanced analytics to deliver business value. CIOs must effectively integrate digital into their IT strategic plans and advance digital dexterity with C-suite leaders.” By embracing digital transformation, organisations can begin the process of exploiting the latest digital technologies and practices to create a new sustainable digital business model.


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