How can healthcare stay healthy? Communication
by: Anne Hancock Toomey | posted February 15, 2012
At the recent annual meeting of the Chicago Healthcare Executives Forum, a crowd of 500 healthcare leaders heard from the CEOs of our industry’s most powerful (and sometimes conflicting) associations – the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, American Nurses’ Association and American College of Healthcare Executives.
Altogether, these organizations represent 5000+ hospitals, 3.1 million nurses, 40,000 healthcare executives and 250,000 physicians. Impressive. As they opined on how we prepare for a healthcare environment of ACOs, reimbursement overhaul, babybooming demand, workforce shortages, and the call for transparency, there was a common theme in the recipe for success: communication.
- How do we improve quality and minimize clinical errs? Teamwork and better communication among caregivers who weren’t trained to, um, communicate.
- What do we make of social media? Don’t fear it, use it to communicate swiftly and regularly with patients and media (honoring the barriers of HIPAA, of course).
- How will hospitals and physicians possibly survive and thrive under bundled payment? Communicate and align incentives like we never have before.
- How do we create a more diversified health care workforce? Proactive outreach to minorities and making education affordable.
- How should an organization deal with a reputation-hitting issue? Take responsibility and communicate as transparently as possible.
Is it really that simple? Well, no, not entirely. But, the truth is that healthcare organizations and physicians have largely operated in a system that hasn’t required them to partner or communicate well to be successful. They have not been incented to work together to improve care. They have not had to share risk financially. They have not had to publicly release their report cards on quality, cost efficiency, patient satisfaction, community benefit, and the list goes on.
It’s a whole new world today. And tomorrow is even scarier. It will require a willingness to be open and ready to make changes, to talk more, to listen even more than we talk and to always place the patient at the center of the health care puzzle. Easier said than done? Yes. But, critical to success? Absolutely. Just ask the experts.