Too often, healthcare leadership teams are resistant to change or accepting of it in word only. For a system to truly remain effective and continually improve the level of care it provides, it must embrace change — even seek it.
Establishing a leadership team unafraid of change is no easy task, but there are several ways leaders can build a culture that embraces the unfamiliar in the name of improved patient safety, care and quality.
- Bring in leaders who communicate, collaborate and commit. One of the most important parts of establishing a team that seeks change is choosing the right people. “When it’s time to bring in a new leader, it’s crucial to determine whether he or she has the qualities necessary to push forward into the future of healthcare,” says Neill Marshall, Chairman of HealthSearch Partners. “That person must be willing to communicate well not only the ‘what’ of the change but the ‘why’ behind it.”A new leader must collaborate and encourage collaboration between others, and they must commit to following through on change, modeling adaptability and patience. Humility — listening to others and being aware there may be better solution available — is also a key quality for leadership, as is a willingness to take risks for the sake of long-term success. Leadership should be dedicated to always learning and getting better at what they do rather than being drawn to what is comfortable or what has always been done.
- Encourage — even reward — creativity. It’s tempting to get stuck in the mindset of your own field of study, but when we take a moment to step back and look at the big picture, we can discover new ways of doing things that make our organization even better. For example, Dr. David Feinberg considers the successes of other companies, like Ritz-Carlton’s hiring program or Starbucks’ customer service when looking for ways to improve Geisinger Health, which has led to a radical pilot program that gives patients partial refunds when they are unsatisfied with their service. Thinking creatively and being unafraid to step outside the box can go a long way in generating excitement helping leaders see the value of change. Encouraging leaders to ask themselves “did I come up with anything creative today?” can be a great way to stimulate innovation and creative problem-solving.
- Establish new markers of success. Fully committing to a value-based model dedicated to patient quality means leadership teams may need to shift how they measure success. It can no longer be judged by the number of ER visits or surgeries — it may actually be the inverse of these things, as we move from “sick care” to wellness and prevention. “To determine progress, consider the size of the population managed or even the percentage of unnecessary ER visits decreased — markers that indicate your system is increasing overall wellness in the community,” says Laura Conley, Senior Vice President and COO of HealthSearch Partners.
- Plan/Do/Study/Adjust. Consider adopting this model when it comes to implementing change. When this is the standard — as opposed to simply “Plan/Do,” or worse, just “Do” — leadership and staff understand that just because an attempt fails or is not as effective as planned doesn’t mean the change is off the table entirely. It simply means the outcomes must be studied and the strategy must adjust. This also creates a culture of continual improvement, which takes some of the fear out of future changes.
- Keep the ultimate goals in mind. Be clear about what the ultimate goals, mission and values for the organization are, and then keep those in mind when making decisions. For example, a merger or acquisition may seem like a good idea financially (and it may be) but be sure to consider whether or not it helps achieve ultimate goals like excellent patient care and affordability before moving forward. Inversely, a financially risky decision may not make sense in the short-term, but may ultimately improve patient safety or care in the long run.“Making sure your leadership knows what the end goals and mission of your organization are and identifying leaders who are passionate about the same things will help them embrace change — even if it is uncomfortable or challenging at first,” adds Ivan Bartolome, Chief Executive Officer of HealthSearch Partners.
By following these five steps, you can cultivate a leadership team that not only accepts change but pursues it, committed to giving patients the best experience possible.
To learn more, click here to see how 5 transformational leaders are challenging the status quo.