Friday, February 10, 2012

Curling up with a drink, and a song

I need to turn from my soccer compulsion and address the sport of curling. Before today, I was not aware of the wisdom that can be derived from this sport and applied to hospital safety and quality improvement.  Fortunately, a recent blog post by Mary Smillie, Health Quality Consultant, Saskatchewan, on Open Medicine helped me overcome my inadequacies in this regard.  It is entitled, "Improvement on Ice: Curling and Quality Improvement Science."

Here's an exemplary excerpt:

Every stone thrown presents an opportunity for testing and learning as does the overall strategy for each end. The team with the last rock advantage will try and set up the end to score at least two points.  The opposition will work to cover up the center of the rings to counteract the last rock advantage and ideally ‘steal’ one or two points through a defensive strategy. The skip for each team will have a plan (and prediction) at the start of the end based on whether or not they have last stone. If, as the end progresses, the skip recognizes the strategy will not work as planned, he/she will modify the strategy based on  the opposition’s performance and the strengths and weaknesses of the other team members. It is a perfect incarnation of continuous improvement theory and practice in real time.

This is a good article, but I see no mention of  a key aspect of the game.  As noted here: It not only is a curling tradition to share a drink with opponents after the game, but most clubs specifically spell out "Have fun" as part of their official rules (some of them even list it twice).
Now, that's more like it.  Imagine how much faster process improvement would occur in hospitals if we adopted a similar attitude.  Even more so if songs were included.

If you cannot see the video, click here.

1 comment:

Barry Nathanson said...

Although I've never curled in my life, I have watched the sport a couple of times, especially at the olympic level on TV. Just from watching it a few times it has occurred to me that curling presents another meritorious analogy to health care. The player who directs the rock down the ice exerts the vast majority of influence over the rock's ultimate trajectory while the players who sweep exert only a relatively modest influence. To me, as an internist-hospitalist, this is comparable to the importance of getting the hospital admission process right. The admitting physician sets the course of the inpatient while all other clinicians bear only a modifying influence. Any errors that take place at the time of admission are hard to identify and hard to remedy.