4 ways to sustain your healthcare organization's improvements

Systemic healthcare improvement only works as well as an organization's ability to sustain and maintain implemented changes, reports Harvard Business Review.

According to a whitepaper from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement studying well-performing healthcare organizations achieving high improvement results, change is maintained through strong engagement and standardized frontline management.

Here are four ways to implement and sustain improvements at your healthcare organization.

1. Roll out a pilot within a health system unit. Testing how to standardize management via a small-scale pilot can act as an important model from which to experiment and learn. Careful selection of the pilot unit, taking into account stability, goal alignment, established management and engagement, should be considered, according to the report. 

2. Begin improvements with the unit supervisor. While many healthcare improvement initiatives begin from the top down, IHI's report found successful organizations enlisted clinical leaders to direct improvement. By doing so, systems prevented reverting back to old ways and administrative supervisors from micromanaging the clinical unit.

3. Develop short-term goals and garner momentum. Deploying pilots focused on achieving complex goals can set a team up for failure and discourage progress, according to the report. Instead, establish achievable, short-term goals to build rapport. Early wins can further engage staff. 

4. Continue to motivate clinical managers. Using extrinsic motivators like good performance reviews and promotions to inspire clinical managers can standardize improvement to sustain it. High-performing health systems in the IHI report found the most success by focusing efforts on problems that concerned clinical managers.   

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