Patient care is the number one goal of any healthcare facility. But that goal isn’t always attained. If you’re in healthcare, you probably know a few statistics about how poor communications causes patient deaths or harmful events, malpractice lawsuits, and general dissatisfaction.
- Medical errors are the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer.
- Hospital staff only report 1% of harmful events.
- Many patients and healthcare providers don’t feel they’re listening to or caring as they should.
- Genuinely care about a patient and his or her health.
- Want feedback and information about missed opportunities in care.
- Feel comfortable reporting issues.
In other words, engagement impacts communication. Sadly, less than 44% of U.S. hospital employees are considered highly engaged.
Here are a few ways to improve engagement and communications at your facility, hospital, research lab or clinic to improve not only survival rates, but improve the lives of your staff and your patients.
1. Demonstrate you care about staff
Care starts at your facility. Leaders from executives to managers should care about the people who work at their health facility, not just direct reports. Some easy ways to demonstrate genuine care:
- Make caring a value for your organization. Compensate employees based on how they show this trait, including your executives.
- Ensure work-life balance with shifts that can be performed
- Encourage rest and the use of sick time. Because your staff is more prone to infections and stress, make sure they have adequate sick days, so they don’t bring infections to patients.
- Consider using time on the clock for vaccinations and checkups with discounts. Healthcare providers need these preventive measures, but may not have time. Giving them time and providing a discount makes it easier and ensures compliance.
- Practice open communication, encouraging people to report issues and be transparent. Leaders should know staff members, walking the corridors of the hospital, clinic or lab. They should hold regular meetings and help employees understand changes in organizational policies, company goals and more.
- Train managers to also act with this support and empathy.
- Enable career development, providing learning opportunities to employees.
If your staff feels cared about, they’re more likely to show empathy and support to other staff members and patients.
2. Encourage communication
Again, leaders must demonstrate and practice open communication. Here are a few other ideas:
- Make communication a value for your organization. Compensate employees based on how they show this trait, including your executives.
- Train on active listening. Physicians, nurses and other care providers should use active listening at every moment – focusing on information, repeating back for clarification and more. Leaders should also practice active listening, ensuring they hear their staff’s needs. In fact, other than their medical knowledge, listening is probably the most important tool in the healthcare profession.
- Enable collaboration – online and physical sharing of information. Online, you can provide places on your intranet to share ideas and thoughts. Ask teams to meet, including cross-functional teams. Get leaders to share information in person, at meetings and online themselves.
- Give time for communication. In this fast-paced world, especially hospitals, it’s hard to get all the facts and get them correctly without purposeful intent and dedicated time.
- Create an environment where employees feel safe correcting mistakes before they happen. For example, if a physician is about to use an incorrect dosage, the nurse should feel comfortable telling the physician.
- When mistakes do happen, encourage sharing issues and solutions.
- Share company goals and how staff contributes to those goals. Also, make sure staff understands the progress made toward these goals and why they matter to your facility.
3. Celebrate success
Every day, all day healthcare facilities across the U.S. are identifying new procedures, saving lives and making patients more comfortable. It’s true at your facility, too.
- Enable peers to reward each other.
- Get leaders to reward general staff and celebrate with teams.
- Feature these kudos on your intranet homepage and in newsletters given to staff, as the example to your right. Talk about it at all-staff meetings.
These stories should be visible and celebrated. By rewarding and encouraging teams, you’re building strong teamwork and a place people want to work.