Monday, March 14, 2011

Good design makes it easy to do the right thing

Every system is perfectly to achieve exactly the results it gets.

- (attributed to) Don Berwick

Here are a couple of examples of how design affects behaviour.

First, a picture of the entrance to a Walmart in Calgary. (Sorry it's a little fuzzy.)

There's a huge floormat that you must walk across as you enter the store. There's no way around it. It's long enough to let the big chunks of snow drop off your boots, and also absorb a fair bit of water from them. It must save them a lot of mopping during the spring and winter, and make it safer for customers and staff.

Nobody deliberately makes the floor slick with the runoff from their winter boots. This "push" design makes it easier to do the right thing.

Here's the tap running in one of our cystoscopy suites.

You probably can't tell from the photo, but the water is glacial- absolutely freezing. How long can someone spend washing their hands when the water temperature is so unpleasant? I know it's cold because I do wash my hands in it - over a dozen times in a morning. But, I think I would spend a little extra time under the water if it were warm. (Mmmm, warm water...) And, yes, we have called maintenance about the water temperature.

What are the little things in your workplace that stand in the way of you doing your job the way you want to do it? Why not leave a comment about it ("Anonymous" is fine!) so that we can create a list of simple changes that will improve patient care. What's bugging you?

**Update (March 15, 2011): The water in the cysto unit today started out freezing, but warmed up a lot sooner than usual. Thank you Water Heater Fairy.

**Update (March 24, 2011):  Freezing again today!  Curse you Water Heater Fairy!

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