Every once in a while we all need to hit the reset button and remind ourselves about our shared purpose. A case in point is healthcare. Far too many healthcare providers have been so focused on driving out waste and cost that they have squeezed out room for caring.

bedside manner

Bedside manner (Photo credit: JAM + SPaM)

The Cleveland Clinic’s former chief experience officer and current chief medical officer of Vocera Communications, Inc., Dr. Bridget Duffy underlines the need to “restore humanity back into healthcare.” Resetting healthcare delivery will only happen when the whole range of healthcare professionals recommit to caring for people, connecting with those patients and each other, and systematizing their practices so they endure.

Prelude – Commitment to Purpose

As Dr. Duffy explains, “breakdowns in human connection and communication start before a patient is even admitted.” At a hospital in which Dr. Duffy worked, one patient told her that he didn’t feel anyone at her hospital cared about him as a person. Hospital employees wouldn’t even look up from their computers as they entered his information into the system. His was a body to be repaired, not an individual to be helped.

Consequently, Dr. Duffy standardized the check-in process so the first question employees asked patients was, “What are you most concerned about today that you would like to talk to your doctor or nurse about?” This became one of the “sacred moments” focusing on patients’ emotional, physical and spiritual needs. These interactions serve to establish human-to-human connections and tap into healthcare providers’ calling of why they got into healthcare in the first place.

All healthcare providers must share a commitment to purpose. Dr. Duffy is adamant that only engaged and satisfied employees can deliver healthcare in a way that connects with patients. And she is certain that change must be inspired and enabled by physician leaders, who believe in this as the only way to improve things: “If I had one dollar to invest, I’d put it here.”

Moments of Impact – Connections

There are a whole series of moments of impact in healthcare today, well beyond just administering treatment. These include delivering the diagnosis, preparing for treatment, the treatment itself, post-treatment care, discharge, ongoing maintenance and many others. Dr. Duffy sees these as moments of communication in which patients want to be treated with dignity and respect as human beings by an inter-connected collaborative team.

Patients need what Dr. Duffy calls “navigators” or “bureaucratic sherpas” to guide them through the system and advocate for them. As she explained, 20 percent of healing is related to the technology while 80 percent is about the human-to-human connection. Just as hospitals have “code blue” signals to summon crash carts, they need “Code Lavenders™” to summon rapid-response emotional support teams.

Follow Through – Systematization

As long as these connections are driven by caring individuals, healthcare won’t be hit or miss. Duffy suggests that while physicians can lead, they must connect with others who are driving this innovation so they don’t feel “alone in the desert.” The changes must be integrated into other things that matter and must be hard-wired with technologies that restore relationships, improve communication and put doctors and nurses back at the bedside providing real “care.”

The bottom line for Dr. Duffy is that the ROI on improved the patient experience is meaningful for patients, staff and caregivers and can help meet clinical and financial goals.

The bottom line for you is that you need to reset your organization’s commitment to its shared purpose again and again and again.

This is an example of the heart of The New Leader’s PlaybookBRAVE Leadership

We’re all new leaders all the time. So remember all the time that leadership is about inspiring and enabling others to do their absolute best together to realize a meaningful and rewarding shared purpose. With that in mind, BRAVE leaders pay attention to their Behaviors, Relationships, Attitude, Values, and Environment – all the time.