SMART Work Design: Accelerating the Diagnosis of Rare Diseases in the Western Australian Undiagnosed Diseases Program

Front Pediatr. 2020 Sep 18:8:582. doi: 10.3389/fped.2020.00582. eCollection 2020.


The accurate and efficient diagnosis of rare diseases, many of which include congenital anomalies, depends largely on the specialists who diagnose them - including their ability to work alongside specialists from other fields and to take full advantage of cutting-edge precision medicine technologies and precision public health approaches. However, highly specialized clinicians operating within a historically-siloed healthcare system is antithetical to the multi-disciplinary, collaborative, and creative approach that facilitates the diagnosis of rare diseases. The Western Australian Undiagnosed Diseases Program (UDP-WA) successfully re-designed the work of the involved clinicians to facilitate teamworking across silos. To understand the effectiveness of the Western Australian program, we draw on a SMART work design perspective (i.e., work that involves Stimulation, Mastery, Agency, Relations, and Tolerable demands). We propose that the redesign was successful in part because it improved crucial psychosocial work characteristics that are less prevalent in the broader work system, as identified in the SMART model. Based on the effectiveness of UDP-WA and its SMART design, we provide a framework that clinicians, healthcare managers, and policymakers can consider when they re-design work so that they can create SMART jobs within healthcare.

Keywords: congenital abnomarlities; diagnos*; genomics; rare disease (RD); teamwork; work redesign.