We each got into healthcare to make a difference in the lives of others. As healthcare providers, the most fulfilling days are realized when patients are engaged with their own health and with their caregivers. The more we focus on helping others engage, the more we engage ourselves.
To truly transform healthcare—to deliver higher quality at lower cost—we must engage patients in their own care, so that they take ownership for action between doctor visits.
Shifting forces. All kinds of market forces are converging to create urgency for engagement. There's the industry move to preventive care under population health; a slew of financial incentive programs by the CMS; and savvy new competitors—like CVS Minute Clinics—entering the market. And that's just a few for starters. Never have the stakes been so high.
Taking ownership. A culture of high engagement flows from the leaders in an organization to its employees and caregivers first, and then to patients. Engagement starts at the top with maintaining transparent and open communication, setting clear expectations, building trust, and requiring personal accountability. However, leaders can't force engagement. Each individual must also take responsibility for owning it.
Knowing what matters most. What do employees need to engage? They want and need to feel a sense of purpose, that they're doing worthwhile work, and that they are making a difference. They want and need to feel valued and to have good relationships with their leaders. They want opportunities for professional development and career advancement.
Physicians also need connection to purpose and they engage more when they have opportunity to provide input and give feedback. They value efficiency in caring for their patients and appreciation—from patients and leaders—for the contributions they make.
Evidence-based Leadership is the answer. The good news is that we know what works to hardwire a culture of high engagement for all stakeholders—employees, physicians and patients. The best way to inspire engagement is to connect with both our hearts and our minds. Authenticity, trust and empathy lay the groundwork. Proven tools and tactics to set clear goals, communicate with transparency, and evaluate performance will steer the ship to breakthrough results and high reliability.