HSD Models and Methods: Helping Healthcare Address Intractable Challenges

The practice of human systems dynamics has, at its heart, the iterative problem-solving model called Adaptive Action. Applying other HSD models and methods to answer the “What?, So what?, Now what?” questions of healthcare practice have a huge, and currently unmet, potential to improve healthcare services.

Since I became an HSD Professional in 2008, my practice potential and capacity to help a broad spectrum of healthcare service populations exploded with new energy and direction. I am passionate to share HSD with today’s medical practitioners, who are often frustrated by working in modern healthcare systems. I am equally passionate to share HSD with healthcare system decisionmakers who are continually forced to react to the chaos and tension that this system frustration produces in everyone. These tensions can lead to intractable challenges that commonly leave the healthcare system and practitioners confused and uncertain about the future.

Why am I so passionate about sharing HSD models and methods with other healthcare practitioners and system decisionmakers? There are two specific reasons.

  • People who enter healthcare practice are often natural observers of human patterns. Many healthcare systems are challenging to them because, while they look at human patterns, system decisionmakers attend to patterns of budgetary and operational efficiency. This creates a natural unrest in practitioners who feel as if their purpose for being in practice is blocked. As I explain in the next section, decisionmakers within the health care systems often make decisions based on a different Four Truths perspective.  Mutual understanding of the Four Truths model would ease tensions felt by everyone. More about this later.
  • People who enter healthcare practice understand the science behind HSD intuitively. This is because HSD models and methods provide ways to deal with tensions that emerge from instinctive behaviors practitioners recognize as the “fight-flight-freeze” response. These survival-based behaviors could be understood by everyone in a healthcare system if there were a shared understanding of HSD. For example, by plotting that tension on the Landscape Diagram, they would have greater insight into the challenges they face. Use of the Landscape Diagram to explain these complex, interconnected human reactions would require more space than this Blog provides, but let me explain the Four Truths Model.

Applying the Four Truths Model

The Four Truths Model (see image) helps practitioners and decision makers understand how different perspectives influence adaptive actions. Healthcare practitioners’ understanding of human patterns is informed through daily interactions. They are often more aware of the details behind their clients’ subjective truth about their healthcare experience. They can also understand normative truth that develops through exchanges with families and other clients. For practitioners, client experience becomes an objective truth that helps them understand more about that client’s perceptions of their healthcare experience. Decisionmakers hear about client experiences through Satisfaction Surveys or Case Worker Reports, but they lack first-hand experience with that client. This means specific details never become part of their objective truth.

Understanding complex truth can dissolve system tensions before they become a contagion that influences the whole system. Understanding the validity of all truths and identifying relevant truth in the moment, practitioners can avoid burn-out. When practitioners understand system decisionmakers’ perspectives, employee retention goals can be met. When everyone understands similarities and differences between perspectives, common ground can be found for less reactive problem solving and more measured decision making.

I am Janice Ryan, and I have developed Attunement Solutions, Inc. It is a consultancy service that focuses on expanding applications of HSD in healthcare systems worldwide. I use these and other HSD models to help healthcare professionals and decisionmakers find viable options for action in the face of intractable healthcare challenges.

Janice Ryan, OTD, OTR/L
Attunement Solutions, Inc. and Human Systems Occupational Therapy

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