I have always been a little gonzo for checklists.
But Atul Gawande’s book, The Checklist Manifesto, has pushed me over the edge.
The book was published in 2009 and shortly after that, a patient recommended it to me. I have had it on my shelf ever since.
Well, having vowed this year not to buy any more books until I made my way through my to-read stack, I finally read it. And what a revelation.
Gawande describes the use of checklists in ways I had never imagined.
The book got me thinking about the potential to improve systems in the two areas I am most familiar–physical therapy practice and medical blogging.
Gawande details the way checklists are used to coordinate large amounts of people to solve complex problems.
One essential characteristic of modern life is that we all depend on systems—on assemblages of people or technologies or both—and among our most profound difficulties is making them work.
Checklists, he says, are routinely used to manage huge projects and sophisticated systems like flying an airplane in a storm or building the tallest skyscraper.
[C]hecklists seem able to defend anyone, even the experienced, against failure in many more tasks than we realized.
Shortly before writing the book, Gawande was tasked by the World Health Organization to help them improve surgical outcomes around the world. No surprise, he was able to do that with a checklist.
When I got the book I was still practicing physical therapy.
In retrospect, I can see how checklists could improve efficiency and patient care (not to mention reimbursement!) in the clinic. Here are some examples:
- Insurance verification
- Charting Requirements
- Billing procedures
- Post-Op Protocols
- Wheelchair Assessments
- Home Assessments
- Patient Education Modules
When I finally read The Checklist Manifesto, I had moved into full-time medical writing. Today, I write and edit blogs and manage content for medical practices. And I have begun to fully integrate checklists into my work.
Here is one of my shortest checklists:
And here is the checklist I have developed for preparing a blog post in WordPress. I use it and I make sure all the writers I manage use it too. It has been really useful in training new writers as well.
You are welcome to use it yourself if you like.
1. Get Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto. And read it during your breaks.
For you bootstrappers–you can probably find it at your local library or you can put out a quick note on Facebook and see if any of your friends have it to lend.
2. If you will be blogging on WordPress make a copy of my checklists above. I am happy to share.
3. Brainstorm a little. Think of where in your clinical practice (or your blog) a checklist can help you improve efficiency and decrease error.
Whatever you choose, the benefits of the checklist will increasingly come into focus. And if you are anything like me, soon you too will have gone fully gonzo for checklists.
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Photo Credit: © [makromedya, ludimir] / Dollar Photo Club
The screen shots are from my checklists as they appear in Trello.