Monthly Archives: March 2019

Our Stories: Employee Suggestions

My sincere apologies for the gap between blogs. This winter has been very busy for our institution as well as our community. One project that has kept my team occupied was the development and implementation of Blind Spots. Through several meetings and discussions, I have noticed a theme from faculty and staff.

“We want to be heard.” And, “How do we go about getting (whatever the issue) solved?”

Historically, emails, phone calls, and even hallway conversations would be heard by senior leaders with concerns or issues. As a team, it was impossible to collate these and therefore no way to prioritize. Some issues have been addressed, and unfortunately many were not. We did not have an effective way of tracking these concerns or doing timely follow up. So we went to the drawing board. What if we had a “suggestion box” of some sort? A place where faculty and staff could share concerns or issues and someone from leadership would be assigned to review them. A “suggestion box” that could track themes and encourage faculty and staff to share their possible solutions.

The research I’ve read all said suggestion boxes are bad ideas. They can be ineffective and fail to produce engagement. Some of the reasons included: lack of follow up, only implementing a small number of ideas, no way to share improvements, hard for people to submit ideas, and no way to check out who is participating and who isn’t. Really, these were all the reasons why I wanted one in the first place. We took this idea to HCIS. From there, they created an electronic ticketing system. It is easy to use, and something we could pull data out of.

Next, we needed a name. A name that would explain what the system was designed for. My team, with great help from MarCom, did a thorough evaluation of a lot of ideas: rock-in-your-shoe, be the change, wouldn’t it be nice, good to great ideas, etc. Then, “Blind Spots,” an area where a person’s view is obstructed, was discussed and this is what we decided on. These would be things that may be out of view for leadership for one reason or another. In even the best managed organization, there will be blind spots. Perfect.

Anyone within UI Health Care can enter a Blind Spots report, and those reports get assigned to senior leaders. Those assigned then review the reports and decide the best way to address them. To simplify, we chose three main categories for closing a ticket:

  1. Closed: complete/getting taken care of.
  2. Closed: parking lot/great idea, but cannot be completed at this time due to some constraint.
  3. Closed: unable to achieve. These are the ones that are not possible (e.g., move the football stadium to get more parking!).

We went live in mid-December. The goal is to be able to assist when local efforts have failed. When marketing Blind Spots, we encouraged faculty and staff to use this reporting system as an additional resource if more help is needed, or if it is unclear who can help. We will direct the Blind Spot to the appropriate leader. Please remember to add your possible solution. We want to hear your thoughts!

So how are we doing? I am happy to share that as of 3/5/19 we have two open tickets and 47 closed.

  • 31/47 were completed/getting taken care of. Examples: adding better signage to ramps, changing the coffee line order, adding Visa/MasterCard accepted sign, fixing an error in provider enrollment, or fixing the heat in a particular area.
  • 8/47 were unable to achieve. Examples: one administrative structure for UI Health Care, University of Iowa, College of Nursing, and Athletics; or replacing Bread Garden with Java House.
  • 8/47 are in the parking lot. Examples: Ergonomics room for testing out equipment or fixing/cleaning up the skywalks.
  • All 49 tickets were addressed and assigned on average within 2 weeks.
  • The 47 closed tickets were closed within an average of 28 days.
  • 22 different leaders have been assigned tickets.

After reviewing the tickets, there have been no overwhelming themes for areas or departments with issues. However, there are lessons that can be learned from what has been gathered thus far. A large number of the tickets have to do with improper communication and education amongst teams. I challenge all of you to work on improving communication in your area. Share staffing changes, equipment purchases, and future upgrades. Educate co-workers on how to report EVS and maintenance issues, ethical concerns, or system problems. Ask questions! If you are wondering something, chances are there is someone else wondering the same thing. Lastly, do not just be a problem spotter, be a problem solver. We are counting on you!

I want to thank all that have entered or resolved a Blind Spot so far! With better communication and better teamwork, Blind Spots is just one more way we are striving for excellence at UI Hospitals & Clinics every day. To submit a report, click on the Incident Reporting link found on: The Point, under Top Links, or on The Loop, Employee Info page, under Tools.


—Theresa Brennan, MD, Chief Medical Officer