Organisational reporting and learning systems: Innovating inside and outside of the box

Clin Risk. 2015 Jan;21(1):7-12. doi: 10.1177/1356262215574203.


Reporting and learning systems are key organisational tools for the management and prevention of clinical risk. However, current approaches, such as incident reporting, are struggling to meet expectations of turning health systems like the UK National Health Service (NHS) into learning organisations. This article aims to open up debate on the potential for novel reporting and learning systems in healthcare, by reflecting on experiences from two recent projects: Proactive Risk Monitoring in Healthcare (PRIMO) and Errordiary in Healthcare. These two approaches demonstrate how paying attention to ordinary, everyday clinical work can derive useful learning and active discussion about clinical risk. We argue that innovations in reporting and learning systems might come from both inside and outside of the box. 'Inside' being along traditional paths of controlled organisational innovation. 'Outside' in the sense that inspiration comes outside of the healthcare domain, or more extremely, outside official channels through external websites and social media (e.g. patient forums, public review sites, whistleblower blogs and Twitter streams). Reporting routes that bypass official channels could empower staff and patient activism, and turn out to be a driver to challenge organisational processes, assumptions and priorities where the organisation is failing and has become unresponsive.

Keywords: Patient safety; incident reporting; organisational learning; resilience; risk management.