What's next in hospitals? Leveraging the 'voice of the bedside care team' could be a key piece

When it comes to excelling as a hospital leader, one must be an excellent communicator, possess high levels of emotional intelligence and be able to put patients at the center of decision-making, Rachael Drake, MSN, RN, chief nursing officer at Greenville, S.C.-based Prisma Health, told Becker's. 

However, hospital leaders who make these decisions are not usually the ones who spend time directly with patients on a regular basis. "Great hospital leaders must be dedicated to providing patient-centered care, understanding patients' needs and incorporating [them] into operations," she said.   

Many C-suite executives make it a point to round with clinicians, but they are not at the bedside day in and day out. Many nurses say it is time to look for input from those who interact with patients 24/7 — namely physicians and nurses.

"So many innovations and care models have been tried over the past few years that have not produced the anticipated benefit [in hospitals]," said Bryan Sisk,  DNP, senior vice president and chief nursing executive at Houston-based Memorial Hermann Health System. "I believe it is important that we guard against and not get weary of asking good questions, as innovation fatigue is real. Those who find ways to fuel units where innovation is exciting while leveraging the voice of the bedside care team will set themselves apart from the rest of the market and industry."  

Hospital culture is a priority, said Janel Allen, executive vice president and chief people officer at Omaha, Neb.-based Children's Hospital & Medical Center, but she added that "people are the most vital element of a hospital's operations and growth."

Creating a strategy that includes the organization's mission, vision and values is important. "We can achieve the best outcomes and experiences for patients, families and the communities by putting people at the start of every equation," Ms. Allen said.

To properly focus on patients and to make sure bedside clinicians are given the opportunity to inform decision-making, hospitals must support their workforces, Ms. Allen added, noting her hospital has rolled out "robust" well-being programs for doctors and nurses that have been "tailored to our specific workforce."

"We're also passionate about fostering a culture of empowerment and inclusion so every employee sees their work as meaningful and mission critical," she said. "This helps us to increase engagement and support strong retention rates."

Dr. Sisk said he has been seeing more of an effort by healthcare professionals to embrace a team environment. Now it is time to add a team-oriented approach to making important decisions.

As demand for care continues to grow, he said, healthcare professionals will need to think more broadly, "creating a climate where we have to challenge ourselves to learn how to best leverage our resources in people, process and technology." 

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