The fine people at Breakthrough Learning have developed the world’s most stressful board game to help foster systems thinking, collaboration, and innovation in the health care setting.
Played out over a simulated 24-hour day at a hospital, “Friday Night at the ER” graphically shows the downside of short-term thinking, faulty assumptions and an every-manager-for-himself philosophy.
Four-player teams try to juggle a limited number of hospital beds, a relentless influx of patients and a gradual attrition of nurses to care for them, all while racing against a clock that forced faster and faster decisions. Every so often, game cards announce another mini-crisis to ramp up the pressure.
The patient count in the ER waiting room soars as the day goes on, especially if the players running the operating room, critical care unit and medical-surgical floor don’t cooperate to free up bed space, share nursing staff and think ahead to the next challenge.
“It’s about collaboration and teamwork, about seeing your department as one piece of an enormous mosaic,” game leader William Ward [Johns Hopkins University professor of health finance and management -ed] told the players. “Whether it’s lab, registration, records, we tend to manage just in our own little departments. I swear at the bottom of the Atlantic there’s still a hospital department manager in dry room on the Titanic who went down thinking ‘It’s OK. My department is dry.'”