October 24, 2019

Our CUSP program presented in Taiwan

At the International Forum on Quality & Safety in Healthcare in Taiwan, Clare McCarthy, Project Manager PMO/HRO Transformation Unit, presented a poster on our Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Programs (CUSP).

Clare attended the ‘Transforming Quality for Tomorrow’ Conference, to present an ePoster ‘The CUSP of High Reliability – Implementing Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Programs at Northern Health’.

“I presented to an international audience of clinicians, academics and health administrators on how Northern Health is the first health service in Australia to embark on establishing itself as a High Reliability Organisation (HRO). The Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program (CUSP) is a key component of our HRO endeavour, providing a clinical method for improving patient safety through improved teamwork, communication and fostering clinical awareness and best practice. Put together with Dr Katharine See and Dr Bill Shearer, the poster tells the story of CUSPs thus far,” she said.

CUSPs empower staff by breaking down old hierarchies of decision making. It’s egalitarian — all experience and perspectives are heard, and the CUSP begins to identify system defects and how these might be fixed.

“Clinical leaders get to see unit-based activity for themselves — they listen to local points of view and tend to apply their observations,” Clare said.

Clare explained how the CUSP framework is being embedded at Northern Health through ‘CUSP 101’ — an evolving program of multidisciplinary CUSPs, building networks of clinical using ‘science of safety’ to understand and prevent adverse events, establishing teamwork and collaboration across clinical specialties and expanding to embrace issues of safety and culture that affect the whole organisation.

“To date, eight clinical CUSPs have been established to meet the challenge of Northern Health’s HRO commitment, including Respiratory, General Medicine (at two campuses), Neurology, Respiratory Outpatients, Palliative Care, Intensive Care Unit and Medical Oncology,” Clare explained.

The Respiratory CUSP was the first to be established and is the most mature at Northern Health. It has 30 members, both clinical and non-clinical and meets monthly.

“We were the first,” said Dr Katharine See, Head of Respiratory Medicine.

“The Respiratory and now the Respiratory Outpatient CUSPs are proving invaluable. The CUSP model has helped us address more than 40 safety issues since we started. And, it’s my favourite meeting of the month,” Katharine said.

“We’re moving towards a system based on learning,” said Dr Bill Shearer, Executive Director Quality, Safety and Transformation.

“This approach is now creating the momentum we need for transformational change.”

While in Taipei, Clare also attended the ‘Lessons from Aviation Safety and High-Speed Rail’ – one of the ‘experience days’ available to attendees. The day included a visit to the newly inaugurated Taiwan Transportation Safety Board (TTSB) — which investigates Taiwan’s aviation, shipping railway and highway incidents — and the Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR). Both organisations are modelled on HRO principles of efficiency and safety with obvious implications for health services.

Clare and Katharine will present on developments in CUSP at the International Forum on Quality & Safety in Healthcare in Copenhagen in April 2020.