Hospital Impact: Healthcare leaders, remember we're all just 'cogs in the wheel'

Like cogs in a wheel, the people who work for health systems must support each other and the patients through their roles, with no one more important than the other. Getty/Chalabala
Scott Kashman headshot

The other day, I met with John, a work colleague for whom I have great respect.

John is very knowledgeable in plant operations and truly represents the heart and soul of the organization. He consistently shows respect by always being straight with me, which is refreshing compared to having someone just telling you what they think you want to hear. John shows that leadership by sharing what's working well and where we have organizational pain points.

When we talked the other day, he shared a story of how he came across a couple of people who were disrespectful while he was working on a project. He kept quiet because, as he put it: “we are all here to serve the patient.” He knows without patients, we have no job.

The people doing the work support each other and the patients through their roles, with no one more important than the other. Without our support team, we could not provide patient care in an optimal manner.

"We are all cogs in the wheel,” John said, and we need to support each other so we take better care of our patients.

As a healthcare leader, I know it is important to focus on the following:

  1. Set priorities around your goals specific to quality, safety, patient experience and cost. Stress the importance of collaboration and relationships to support those priorities. Address those who are not showing collaborative behaviors, or a culture of non-collaboration will spread. It also leads to a healthier workplace environment for your team.
  2. Look for opportunities to standardize where appropriate. For example, our health system is focused on standardization with cardiac bundles, hospital acquired conditions and enhanced recovery after surgery protocols. Standardization includes your system's agreed upon approach to organize the work, implement the change and manage to the standard. Key elements include: clinical guidelines that draw upon evidence-based or best-known practices; staff and physician education plan; daily monitoring and management; and performance feedback.

  3. Seek ways to collaborate and partner across your system and community. A few months back, our health system was one of seven health systems in the country to receive an AARP Grant (Thank you Larry Altier and Susan Mitchell). That could only take place through the collaboration among our foundation, grant writer and food and nutrition leadership team. With grant funds, we were able to collaborate further with our physician clinics in an effort to reduce unnecessary hospitalizations, keeping people healthier at home.

RELATED: 4 steps to build effective community partnerships

Remember, as John said, we are all ”cogs in the wheel,” with no one person better than another.

Everyone has a role in supporting the organization's goals, while continuously improving, every day. I look forward to hearing your stories of collaboration and partnership.

Scott Kashman is the chief acute care officer for Lee Health, a health system based in southwest Florida.