Leaders at Northwell Health realized that improving quality and reducing costs are closely tied to staff job satisfaction. Clinicians and other staff who feel burned out by workplace inefficiencies aren’t necessarily going to provide the best care to patients.
So they recently launched an initiative asking the 70,000 employees at Northwell’s 23 hospitals and 700-plus ambulatory sites to identify the biggest problems they face in delivering care and to suggest solutions. It’s called the “Ideas at Northwell” campaign, focusing on common-sense practices and provider well-being.
Northwell hired a vendor to survey employees and crowdsource their ideas for making work processes better and more efficient. Then system and hospital leaders will decide which changes to implement on a test basis.
The impact of the changes at the pilot site will be measured in terms of quality, patient satisfaction and cost.
“People are tired of doing senseless work,” said Dr. David Battinelli, Northwell senior vice president and chief medical officer. “The crisis of burnout has helped us all realize that unless we address the senseless things we’re doing, we’ll grind people out.”
Northwell’s leaders know they have a way to go in achieving consistency. For instance, their patient experience scores vary substantially, according to Medicare data on Modern Healthcare Metrics. “Most of the time they can do better by adopting practices at facilities that are doing well,” Battinelli said.
One issue that arises frequently is that patients can’t get a good night’s sleep because of noise, lights, alarms and medical visits. While Northwell started a “quiet at night” campaign, “we still go in at 4:30 a.m. to give someone a medication or draw blood,” Battinelli said. “Why do we do that?”
Northwell hospitals ranged from 42% to 60% in the percentage of patients who said the area around their room was always quiet at night—with most at or below 50%—compared with a national average of 62%, according to CMS data compiled on Modern Healthcare Metrics.