The uncertainties and changes of today’s healthcare industry create challenges for employee engagement. In fact, healthcare employee engagement dropped since last year. But is it a barrier to moving the healthcare workforce in a different direction?
As healthcare consumers are seeking more convenient care, more competition is brought to the marketplace with non-traditional providers such as CVS Minute Clinic and Walgreens Healthcare Clinic. And there is a greater need to implement efficiency measures to compete more than ever before. Overall, it is important for senior executives to grasp the changes that are occurring within the industry and make more informed decisions for their organizations, preparing to thrive versus simply survive.
Employees, however, are a key driver for helping organizations climb the stairway to success as they are the heart of the industry and oftentimes the faces in front of the patients. A strongly engaged healthcare workforce has a measurable positive impact on organizational performance including quality care, clinical outcomes, patient safety, innovation, and profit margin. Additionally, hospitals have spent a lot of time and money creating “patient first” plans in hopes of establishing a more receptive environment. But times are changing, shedding a new light on the need to focus on employees and operate within an “employee first” model versus “patient first.”
In the end, a more engaged and satisfied employee is easier to motivate to enhance the level of customer service. They will also hold more trust in the organization and in the direction its leaders are taking its employees despite uncertainty in healthcare.
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Today, healthcare organizations face two compelling pressures: the first, a need to develop new management systems to better motivate and engage the next generation of employees, leaders, and physicians; and the second, a fundamental shift in the delivery of care due to dramatic payment reductions and outcome accountability.
These two tectonic shifts—occurring essentially at the same time—will cause the foundation of management approach and the providing of patient care to crumble if not addressed while there is still time. So, healthcare organizations across the nation need to retrofit their organizations to meet these two challenges of a changing employee population and the need to squeeze the highest amount of efficiency out of an inherently inefficient healthcare delivery model. Whether the current workplace model needs to be overhauled or completely will be the question for today’s healthcare executives.
So, what are common themes among innovative plans to “remodel” healthcare organizations?
- Developing more flexible workplace and management systems. This includes new compensation models that focus more on skills and knowledge; more flexible time-off programs where employees can trade wage increases for time off; health insurance plans that reward lifestyle, not just health; and part-time leadership positions.
- Using new technology to communicate and inform. Some hospitals are now providing an iPad to all employees with apps specifically designed to communicate key information, as well as provide continual contact and collaboration among organizational members.
- Looking at both fundamental changes to the delivery of care and cutting costs. When people are involved on both ends of care—delivering and receiving—the human element requires flexibility and fights uniformity.
- We are our own worst enemy. To reach the next level required by healthcare reform and significant reductions in payment, healthcare providers challenge some of the long-held patient care delivery beliefs that the more people, the better the care and the need for healthcare to be “community based.”
To learn more about the overall trend of shifting venues in the delivery of healthcare, download our free whitepaper.
What’s a driving factor in America’s healthcare revolution? The growing number of medical homes and Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) is a powerful factor in the transformation that’s taking place. In fact, there are currently more than 7,000 Patient-Centered Medical Home programs and more than 600 public and private ACOs in the United States.
Medical homes of the past have typically focused on primary care. Today’s expanded medical home recognition programs, however, now offer the same opportunities in specialty medicine. And these establishments will keep advancing as savvy and cost-conscience patients seek alternative care at a more efficient cost and utilize smartphone apps as a symptom checker. On the other hand, ACOs are also becoming a dominant model in care delivery, representing the volume-to-value transition that has been the goal of many policymakers for several years.
Ultimately, as healthcare continues to change and uncertainty remains, the question becomes: will the growing number of medical homes and ACOs reduce the number of acute care facilities? The answer is still up for debate.
There are a few specific obstacles that healthcare organizations may need to overcome in the face of shifting venues:
- Decrease in the number of independent hospitals and doctors due to hospital mergers and provider consolidation
- Increase in tensions between hospitals, primary care physicians, and specialists as a result of fewer hospital admissions and procedures
- Limited patient engagement due to consumers taking their health into their own hands
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The Affordable Care Act has given rise to new opportunities for nurses to deliver care and play an important role in leading change. As a result, there is an increasing demand for highly skilled nurses within a variety of care delivery environments. In fact, the American Nurses Association put together a Healthcare Transformation document, illustrating healthcare environments that need nurses, such as nurse-managed health centers, patient-centered medical homes, school-based health centers, and more.
So with the healthcare reform and rise of new healthcare delivery environments, what opportunities exist for nurses?
- Greater funding to support nurse-managed clinics
- Permission of different approaches to deliver primary care, creating an immense need for primary care nurse practitioners and nurse midwives
- Ability to provide care within the various areas of emphasis in healthcare reform—chronic care management, school health, transitional care, and more—due to longstanding focus on wellness and prevention
The opportunities that exist within these shifting venues of healthcare delivery, however, raise new challenges and questions for today’s nurses. In particular, they drive the need to help achieve enhanced patient outcomes at more reasonable costs, provide better chronic care management for the aging and diverse population, and more.
What nursing challenges have resulted from today’s changing world of healthcare?
- Not being identified as equal partners on care teams due to misconceptions—obliviousness—to their roles
- Advanced degrees no longer being optional to contribute to the profession as opposed to simply needing to obtain minimum licensure
- Volume of Baby Boomers in society, leading to disproportional nurse-to-patient ratios
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You may have watched INTEGRATED’s Raising the Bar video series revolving around a current trend in today’s healthcare industry: decreasing payments and increasing risks. To provide you with additional healthcare insight, I served as a panelist in a HealthLeaders Media Executive Roundtable, “Changing Culture, Leading Strategy at Healthcare Organizations.”
Some important discussion points included:
- Time horizons for culture change and strategic planning
- Cultural alignment with market change
- Key strategic issues ahead
- The opportunity of disruptive change
One of the questions panelists were asked was whether organizations can accommodate the change needed in a fast-moving industry like healthcare. I mentioned that healthcare today is a 10-year horizon. That doesn’t mean providers shouldn’t be taking action now. The good news is that many of the things they have to do to be successful in the population health world, they also have to do to be successful in the acute care world.
Click to read the transcript of the roundtable discussion, which was featured in the October issue of HealthLeaders magazine.