Step one is stabilization. But simply going back to “business as usual” isn’t an option in this new healthcare era. Healthcare systems are fundamentally different in the wake of this global pandemic. While challenging, this time provides an extraordinary opportunity for leaders to engage employees and physicians meaningfully as you recast together the future of your organization.
Having worked alongside hundreds of healthcare organizations to advance change – through systemwide strategy launches or implementation of specific initiatives – we know success depends on your team seeing themselves in your future. On the heels of the pandemic’s trauma, it’s more important than ever they feel heard and reassured, understand your path forward and see their role in it.
This starts with a well-defined strategy that reflects your mission and energizes your workforce. Listening to your team will help you hone a sharper plan, increase alignment and foster adoption of the revised path.
The pillars of your system’s strategy may have been validated through COVID-19. Or you may need to reimagine your strategic plan completely. Either way, this is an opportunity to reframe your strategy and how it guides your system – especially with the public’s newfound interest in health system resources and decision-making.
Assess your strategy against the new realities; commit to up to five priorities over the next 12-18 months
Communicate strategic wins through COVID-19 and other adopted initiatives (i.e. telemedicine) that propel you forward
Engage your boards as ambassadors to cultivate partners who can advance your system’s strategy and mission
The professional and personal toll the pandemic has had on team members – whether inundated by cases or poised for those that haven’t come yet – cannot be understated. Now is the time to truly listen to your team – and, as you turn toward the future, to meet them where they are now.
Host listening sessions and field internal polling to assess morale, burnout and wellness needs
Solicit feedback on positives achieved during the crisis and actions that may have harmed trust
Share back what you hear and how it will shape your system’s path forward
Your mission is the cornerstone of your organization. For many, it also reflects why they were called to healthcare. As you begin recovery, use this time to recommit to who your system is at its core.
Launch a mission-vision-values campaign to reconnect your team with foundational elements
Celebrate your teams through an internal appreciation campaign, highlighting how they lived your mission, vision and values throughout the crisis
Reassess your organization’s vision – or aspiration for the future – to ensure it reflects your path forward in a post-COVID-19 world
We’ve battled the first pandemic in a decade and the most significant one in generations. Unfortunately, for many leaders, it won’t be the last. As healthcare providers begin to take stock in the wake of COVID-19, round one, they must set aside time to consider their long-term strategic plans. What should they keep, what needs to evolve based on everything that’s happened since early March, 2020?
Here, David Pate, MD, JD, offers in-depth guidance for how hospital and health system executives can work through this strategic review. Pate spent a decade as president and CEO of St. Luke’s Health System in Boise, ID, where his accomplishments included a substantial move towards a value-based model of care. It is this perspective that he offers in his open letter, which you can download below.