Healthcare organizations have come a long way by prioritizing the quality of care they deliver to patients. That’s the most critical factor to set your clinic, hospital, or practice apart in the competitive market. New leadership roles have emerged as game-changers in this context, driving teams and organizations to give their best.
Skilled leaders motivate their team members to work at their highest potential to enhance patient outcomes, support their colleagues, and contribute to the healthcare organization’s goals. According to the National Institutes of Health, bold leadership is required to transform healthcare in the US.
Not surprisingly, today’s healthcare organizations are willing to engage and cultivate the best leaders, even if they cost a lot. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that employment in health services management roles is expected to grow 28% from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the occupational average in the country.
But having good leaders in top roles is only a start. As a provider, you must define and implement the best practices to get the best results.
Here are the ones that can set a healthcare organization apart:
Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement
Healthcare is an ever-evolving industry with new treatment options and technologies always around the corner. Organizations with solid leadership work on creating a culture of continuous improvement. They encourage employees to invest in ongoing learning and professional development.
Online programs are a good option as they enable aspiring leaders to learn leadership skills without hampering their professional commitment. According to Baylor University, hospitals are partnering with healthcare education providers to shape their teams’ next generation of leaders.
A nursing professional with leadership potential can opt for an online Doctor of Nursing Practice in executive leadership program to move to a managerial role. The degree opens opportunities for positions such as Chief Nursing Executive, Chief Nursing Officer, and Vice President of Nursing.
Besides helping professionals reach the next level in their careers, ongoing learning empowers organizations with great leaders. These are the people who inspire and motivate others to go the extra mile for patient care.
Adopting Technology to Help Overburdened Staff
The COVID-19 crisis uncovered the problem of staff shortage and burnout in the healthcare segment. A recent study states that the perceived work overload in the industry is 37.1% among physicians and 47.4% among other clinical staff. Moreover, a growing number of medical professionals have a high intent to leave their jobs.
Recognizing these pressures, healthcare organizations with strong leadership are adopting technology to help their team members. They know the toll of caregiver burnout and are willing to support the overburdened staff with effective technology solutions.
For example, AI can reduce the staff workload and improve their experience through automation. Automating repetitive processes leaves employees more time for treating patients, enhances productivity, and reduces burnout.
Likewise, telehealth is an ideal technology solution to address clinical and operational challenges through remote care. Providers can leverage telehealth to reach patients anytime and anywhere and offer timely help during emergencies. The technology can reduce hospital in-patient foot traffic, resolving another critical concern for organizations.
Relying on Data to Guide Actions
According to statistics, data-driven decision-making has witnessed a 12% increase among global organizations between 2018 and 2020. Nearly all industries are a part of these statistics, and healthcare is no exception. Good leadership in the industry relies on data and evidence-based learning to guide their actions and steer the organizational operations in the right direction.
Leaders should think about the potential impact when making any process change or experimenting with an idea. Understanding it entails measuring the following metrics:
● Outcome metrics are the clinical and operational metrics affecting the health and well-being of patients. Examples of outcome measures include increasing patient satisfaction, decreasing waits and delays, and minimizing hospital-acquired infections.
● Process metrics refer to the specific steps in a process that affect a particular outcome metric positively or negatively. For instance, scheduled follow-up appointments for patients before leaving the hospital can reduce high hospital readmission rates. Follow-up appointments are a process metric that affects the readmission outcome positively by reducing it.
● Balancing measures monitor the aforementioned metrics to see whether improving one area negatively impacts another. If you alter the discharge process to reduce the length of hospital stay (as a process improvement), you must track readmission rates to ensure they aren’t creeping up (negative outcome). The last thing you want to do is to push patients to leave the hospital before they are clinically ready and safe for discharge.
Considering the complexity of these metrics, leaders can understand and monitor them only by studying the data around them. Healthcare leaders may not be math geniuses, but they are great at analyzing numbers and gaining actionable insights from them. They also apply these insights in the real world to improve processes and outcomes in the long run.
Challenging the Status Quo
Great leaders are ready to step beyond their comfort zones and challenge the status quo. Healthcare is about testing new ideas, innovative processes, and different approaches instead of sticking with tried and tested systems. It is also about identifying things that need to be improved to ensure better patient care and satisfaction.
People who are open to breaking old habits and taking risks may fail more often than expected. But they also lead organizations toward better things through innovation. They are the ones with the courage to try a different road and convince others to follow them.
That is how innovation happens within organizations. After all, someone has to take risks and believe in themselves to do something no one else dares try. Great leaders do it; others follow them because of their confidence and charisma.
Promoting Access to Healthcare Equality
Another leadership best practice in outstanding healthcare organizations is promoting access to health equality in their communities. Surveys show that ethnic and racial disparities are a persistent challenge for the American healthcare segment. Even with the progress in the sector, it fails to provide equality in care to all populations.
The National Vital Statistics System shows that in most states, people belonging to minorities, such as the African-American and American-Indian races, are more likely to die early from treatable conditions than white people. The reason is the inability to get timely access to high-quality healthcare, which is a sad reality in a developed nation like the US.
Many healthcare leaders are leading a change with health equality initiatives such as providing care in the community, promoting community education, generating financial support for underserved communities, and identifying collaborative partners.
Mastering Conflict Management
Another best practice healthcare leaders should adopt is to master organizational conflict management. Conflicts can arise when communication gaps develop between practitioners. Often, patients bear the brunt in such situations because each practitioner wants to control their treatment cycle. Imagine the potential damage a patient being pulled in different directions can face.
An effective healthcare leader always finds a solution to resolve conflicts between the team members in these situations. They have different strategies to handle delicate issues, from compromise to negotiation, mediation, and enhanced communication. Most importantly, they use their wisdom to decide on the best strategy to resolve issues and restore harmony for a positive outcome.
Conflict resolution requires unique skills, such as critical thinking, empathy, problem-solving, flexibility, and emotional intelligence. With these high-value skills, great leaders can transform a struggling team into a cohesive unit working toward a common goal.
Fostering Communication and Collaboration
Effective communication and collaboration are essential elements of good healthcare leadership. They can make the difference between life and death on the patient-care level. Team collaboration ensures the delivery of top-notch services and quality of care to patients. Both require shared leadership as a management strategy in healthcare.
A collaborative leader brings cross-disciplinary teams to work together toward a common goal of improving health outcomes. They also model transparency at the highest levels of the organization. It cultivates strong bonding and trust between team members across different departments at all staffing levels.
Further, collaborative leadership is about making people feel empowered, regardless of their organizational roles. They mentor young professionals starting their journeys and respect seasoned ones to increase job satisfaction. This approach is ideal for the healthcare segment, where highly skilled specialists must improve at micromanaging.
The Bottom Line
Healthcare leadership can be a transformative force for organizations and the industry, provided it is focused enough. A growing number of providers understand the value of good leaders who can show the way to provide quality care. These people lead by example, showcasing traits such as ethical practice, open communication, effective time management, integrity, and humility.
Cultivating leadership is about educating and fostering people within the team rather than bringing new ones from outside. Since existing employees know the organization and its culture inside out, investing in them is a wise decision.
What Healthcare Organizations Best Practices Are Most Important?
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