This post, part three in our series “Healthcare in 2020,” looks at four resolutions hospital executives and non-clinical leaders can make this year to improve hospital operations and foster meaningful change.

A new year means a fresh start.

For hospital executives and non-clinical leaders, it also means facing challenges forced on the healthcare community through legislation, consumerism, complexity in navigating the system, movement away from hospitalization to community-based care, and more.

To address these concerns, once again, we focus on the four imperatives introduced in part one of the series and continued in part two. In this case, we apply the four to those of you in leadership positions, to help you to support and drive your organization forward to the future.  

1. Keep your organization, leadership team, and staff focused on shared values and the reasons you got into healthcare. 

The Society of Human Resource Management defines a values-based organization as having a "culture shaped by a clear set of ground rules establishing a foundation and guiding principles for decision-making, actions, and a sense of community. In a values-driven culture, employees find alignment between their personal values and the organization’s values, creating a unified and motivated workforce."

As a clinical services partner, SCP Health adheres to four fundamental values: agility, respect, courage, and collaboration. These underpin every decision we make and guide how we lead, set goals, treat each other, and care for our patients.

What are your organizational values? If the answer is “we don’t have any” — then step one in your new year’s resolution-making efforts is to choose and define them carefully.

If you do have a set of established values, resolve to hire people who will support that mission, and provide ongoing training to keep staff engaged and aligned.

Goal alignment is necessary for one essential reason: to improve patient experience and clinical outcomes. This is especially true in a time when hospitals and health systems are pressured to cut costs, reduce medical errors, and adopt standardized processes and new ways of doing business that challenges clinical providers' established habits.

An SCP Health blog post, Setting Providers up for Success: Aligning Clinicians with Facility Goals, outlines six specific strategies for achieving organizational alignment:

Clarify goals. Ensure everyone is on the same page and understands the organization's goals clearly.

Engage in shared purpose. Start by listening and showing respect for diverse views and co-create processes that will help turn the vision into reality.

Appeal to self-interest. Find what motivates staff members — a survey that asks respondents to list factors is a good way to start — and appeal to those to motivate change.

Embrace tradition. Change happens, but that doesn't mean your organization has to loosen itself from the moorings of time-honored, valued traditions. Promote those as the glue that binds staff together.

Tailor levers to different types of physicians. No two doctors are alike. Having a variety of levers will increase the likelihood of goal alignment.

Don't underrate the power of leadership. People need someone to follow. You’re in the driver’s seat as an executive, so steer with confidence. 

Related resource: Building an Emergency Department Team and Strong Culture from the Ground Up (PDF)

2. Be an advocate for growth.  

You are the person most well-equipped and informed to see the big picture and envision how your organization can fill the gaps in your community’s care ecosystem.

Speaking to the importance of extending the continuum of care beyond the hospital's walls, Marsha S. Masten, RN, BSN, SCP Health Senior Vice President of Operations, Patient Engagement, and Care Coordination, said:

 "In the past, patients would come into a healthcare facility, receive their evaluation and treatment, and be provided post-discharge directions for how to care for themselves after leaving the facility. Now, the extreme complexity of America’s healthcare system is making it increasingly difficult for the patient to navigate to the right place, receive treatment at a reasonable price, and correctly follow post-discharge directions."

She advised hospitals serious about improving patient experience and outcomes to “meet them where they are." 

"If we want patients to trust us, come back to us, recommend us to their friends, share their positive experiences at our facility with their family, and rely on us as a long-term partner in sickness and in health, then we have to be where they are and be there for them," she said.

Going beyond the walls of the hospital often requires more investment, effort, and time, but if it is a priority initiative for your hospital (and it should be), make plans to carry it out.

If you need support implementing care coordination initiatives, telemedicine capabilities, or community and employer engagement programs, contact SCP Health.

3. Align your innovation investments with staff needs and patient priorities.  

Of the many options for innovative care and development that exist, find those that work for your organization. The best way to is to get input from the people closest to the processes or behaviors you are trying to change.

Along with making sure the business pieces match up, consult with trusted clinicians to gain perspectives and buy-in. Changing EHRs? Make sure your nurses, physicians, and IT staff are all represented in the decision-making process. Experiencing friction between EM and HM programs? Set up a Joint Operations Committee to facilitate communication and teamwork.

Most of all, keep the interests of your patients at the forefront. If your efforts don't ultimately benefit the patient, reconsider what you're doing and why. Gaining the loyalty of patients is difficult but aligning your innovation investments with their needs will get you closer to the goal. Put patients first, and the rest will fall into place. 

4. Create an environment that allows your staff to be at their best.

Athlete and author Robyn Benincasa said, "You don't inspire your teammates by showing them how amazing you are. You inspire them by showing them how amazing they are."

That means, along with being an example of hard work and dedication, create an environment that allows your staff to do their best.

Make innovative care management part of your culture and formalize a strategy to foster change. Invest in your teams, promote mental health awareness, be transparent about your expectations, and solicit feedback on how you can do better.

As a hospital management services provider, SCP Health empowers our hospital and health system partners to perform their best every day, helping them with innovative care solutions and hospital staffing services designed to increase physician and patient satisfaction. We can help you, too. Contact us to learn more.