How one simple sentence helped a hospital create a culture of healing

Amending a hospital mission statement with just one sentence may sound like a largely symbolic change, but doing so helped a New Jersey health system improve the patient experience and work toward a culture of healing, according to Becker's Hospital Review.

In a healthcare system increasingly focused on wellness and preventive care, many leaders look to the healing aspect of healthcare delivery, emphasizing factors such as patient experience and compassionate care. Five years ago, Atlantic Health, a five-hospital system based in Morristown, added four words to the end of its mission statement: "Deliver high-quality, safe, affordable patient care within a healing culture."

After making the change, leaders got to work creating a hospital environment that reflects it.

Atlantic's leaders developed a framework for a healing culture centered on four key aspects: shared responsibility; embracing connections among emotional, physical and spiritual healing; treating prevention and overall well-being as part of the healing process; and respect for diversity and cultural competence.

The system formed a Healing Culture Council in 2011 to develop initiatives that would realize this goal, according to Anne Rooke, R.N., a member of Atlantic's board of trustees. Rooke credits the council's success to a few key features, including:

  • Multi-level involvement: All levels of the organization are represented within the council, Rooke told Becker's, in order to take advantage of the system's diversity and drive engagement, a key ingredient for improved patient outcomes.
  • Emphasis on active solutions: Part of the council's work, Rooke said, is to determine possible obstacles to a project moving forward and develop concrete actions to overcome those barriers.
  • Leadership buy-in: Buy-in from the top was vital in building the program to last, according to Rooke. "Having a CEO who embraces [change] and is a believer has really helped push this forward," she told Becker's

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