Last weekend, the UNT Health Science Center hosted the 2014 Eighth International High Reliability Organizing Conference, which brought together a wide range of professors, business professionals, and medical practitioners alike to collaborate on how to develop new best practices for improving safety, productivity, and resilience in the biotech and life sciences spheres. The event featured 70 presenters representing leading research institutions, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the National Transportation Safety Board, and Los Alamos National Laboratory, all of whom focused specifically on how High Reliability Organizations (HROs) can better manage unexpected events — a prevailing theme at this year’s conference.
According to a news release on the UNT Health Science Center website, the International High Reliability Organizing Conference, which was held this year in the Medical Education and Training Building and the Carl E. Everett Education and Administration Building, is the only one of its kind that seeks to bring together non-commercial, international, inter-industry experts and leaders to speak directly to the issue of HRO.
The concept behind High Reliability Organizations and defining HRO principles is that the ever-increasing nature of advancing technology, industry, and science brings with it a high probability that human error will play a major factor in unforeseen, unintended consequences. As a result, it is a best practice in and of itself for those who operate in high-tech, industrial, and research environment to identity, plan, and anticipate how to deal with such occurrences, even if they appear at face value to be virtually unimaginable. The idea for HRO principles was started by UNT Health Science Center President Mike Williams, DO, MD, MBA, who began to implement the ideas while serving as CEO of Hill Country Memorial Hospital in Fredericksburg, by developing a “values-based culture” at the facility by establishing new standards that sought to empower employees and improve patient experience, safety, and quality of care.
While the notion of the conference may seem niche, the event drew more than 200 international attendees, which included representatives from sectors that can be disproportionately affected by unexpected events, such as aerospace, education, healthcare, logistics, and manufacturing.