The Innovation Imperative in Health Care Organisations
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The Innovation Imperative in Health Care Organisations

Critical Role of Human Resource Management in the Cost, Quality and Productivity Equation

Edited by Peter Spurgeon, Ronald J. Burke and Cary L. Cooper

Health systems in the western world face increasingly intense pressure to contain or reduce costs, while countries such as China and India move towards universal coverage. The contributors illustrate that radical gains in efficiency and innovative practice are required internationally in health care systems. They argue that the high proportion of health care system costs invested in staffing place the human resource function at the forefront of meeting this challenge. Sustained system change and productivity gains, more effective management of staff and work climate are essential elements of reform and are all covered in this book.
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Chapter 6: Fostering creativity in health care: health care workers as agents of creativity

March L. To, Neal M Ashkanasy and Cynthia D. Fisher


Consistent with the rapidly changing nature of modern health care, both in the UK (Greener, 2009) and the US (Wallace and Schneller, 2008), there is an emerging imperative for creative thinking in health care management. In this respect, West and Richter (2008) discuss how managers of today’s organisations need to foster a climate of creativity, where positive outcomes for patients are a function of innovative thinking, instead of a reliance on traditional approaches that may not always be best for patient outcomes. Thus, health care workers at all levels have a part to play in creativity by taking the initiative. Particularly important are frontline workers’ reflection and self-initiative. Howkins and Thornton (2002), for example, observe that, ‘Creativity in healthcare means adopting and implementing new ways of thinking in order to change the way nurses work’ (p. 3). At the same time, creativity in healthcare has to take account of the need to manage error, although, as Keith and Frese (2011) have pointed out, creativity and error management are not necessarily antithetical. For example ‘quick stick’ ECG leads (see Lateef et al., 2008, for one example) were invented by nurses frustrated at delays in responding to patients’ complaints of chest pain. A traditional 12-lead ECG setup requires careful site preparation to work reliably, but a downside is that the patient’s chest pain would often disappear before ECG leads could be attached. Quick stick leads overcome this problem, and serve to illustrate how creative ideas and error management can go hand-in-hand when employees are given the opportunity to be inventive

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