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27 ways to positively affect healthcare

Original post at: Becker’s Hospital Review  https://www.beckershospitalreview.com

Amid industry changes and an uncertain political climate, people seek to make positive changes in healthcare. However, they may not always know how to do so. Fortunately, there are many ways to make a difference.

Becker’s tapped 13 industry leaders for 27 ideas on how hospital and health system leaders, physicians, medical schools, patients and policymakers can take action and positively contribute to healthcare today.

Note: Comments are in leaders’ own words, lightly edited for length and clarity.

Things hospital and health system leaders, medical schools, physicians and policymakers can do today.

Thomas Bauer, MDClinical Medical Director of Oncology Services, Hackensack Meridian Health (Edison N.J.).

1. Keep in mind potential for waste or unnecessary spending. I think patients are starting to pay closer attention to the necessity of care rendered now because as more patients have high-deductible insurance plans, how they spend their money becomes critically relevant to them. The patient is much more cautious about getting unnecessary testing when they have to pay for it. So, the patients are starting to be critical of what physicians are doing to make sure care really is necessary. Hospital administrators have always been concerned about that because they have a bottom line and they need to not spend more than they need to provide the care that they need to. But now I think that everyone else is catching up to those sentiments. Being cognizant of what we order and why we order is important, be it lab tests, or radiographic studies and procedures.

Robyn Begley, DNP, RN, CEO, American Organization of Nurse Executives and Senior Vice President and CNO, American Hospital Association. 

2. As healthcare professionals, it is important we lead by example and focus on our personal health. We need to care for ourselves so we can care for our patients, healthcare team and community.

Jay Bhatt, DO, CMO, American Hospital Association.

3. Each day across our country, patients, physicians, hospital leaders and policymakers are taking a range of actions that make a positive contribution to the healthcare field. While these actions can take many forms, most start with simply having the awareness that you do have the ability to move the needle in a positive direction when it comes to providing care and advancing health. Second, realizing that we must all be good stewards of health. And third, the importance of sharing a positive message should not be underestimated. Positive messages can be crucial in helping to build inner strength and getting people through trying times. We should also consider what matters to patients.

Sam Flanders, MD, Senior Vice President and Chief Quality and Safety Officer, Beaumont Health (Southfield, Mich.).

4. Measure safety culture frequently and act on results. Measuring must be done at the unit level for local change to occur, rather than an aggregate result. Strong safety culture means that healthcare team members have what they need to do their jobs, have supportive and engaged leadership and are comfortable speaking up about problems, even small ones. No one can anticipate and engineer out every possible failure, but if everyone on the team is comfortable speaking up, we can make healthcare safer.

5. Teach performance improvement methods that engage the front-lines and encourage continuous improvements every day, everywhere. Avoid “tool based” methods that rely on performance improvement experts; there will never be enough experts to be everywhere. Instead, educate and empower your front-line team members to detect and correct problems “in the moment,” even if they are small. Discourage work-arounds that can lead to safety and quality problems. This creates an atmosphere of sustainable, continuous daily improvement.

Matthew A. Gibson, PhD, Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, Erlanger Health System (Chattanooga, Tenn.).

6. Affect positive change. What can I do today to support our front-line staff in raising the personalized geriatric care in our system to a level that I would want for my 71-year-old mother?  Is there a partnership with a health plan or nontraditional, new healthcare entrant that we can consummate that would improve access and compel contentiousness in my 60-year-old neighbors with chronic hypertension and diabetes? Are we being intentional enough with our general pediatricians in helping them materially impact health disparities among the underserved children in the hundreds of rural miles across our service area?

Numerous healthcare organizations across the country are adept at delivering trauma treatment down to quality clinic based primary care. As leaders we should shepherd the continued delivery of this quality care, but also challenge ourselves to facilitate investment of our resources to solve questions such as those above. No one is in a better position than a senior leader to affect far reaching, positive change among those their organizations are privileged to serve. It is incumbent on us as leaders in healthcare to leverage our platforms to make decisions that yield meaningful, scalable, positive change.

Alan Goldsmith, Executive Vice President and CFO, Broward Health (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.).

7. Leaders and policymakers must subscribe to an agreed upon healthcare delivery model. Quality care must be patient centric and consistent.

Achieving a high standard of care is best achieved through the leveraging of technology and removal of system-wide silos.

When you leverage technology, you obtain more real time data that can be used to drive results. Technology also enables us to simplify processes, which can result in expense reductions while improving patient outcomes.

Technology is most viable when hospitals are working as a cohesive system. Hospitals that are part of larger systems, such as Broward Health, must cease acting as independent silos and instead marry their objectives with enterprise and national health initiatives. We win as a team and lose as a silo.

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