ThedaCare Center CEO: Engage front-line hospital workers to boost patient safety, quality care

Senior healthcare leaders need to simplify their approach to patient safety and quality measures, and give front-line workers the opportunity to provide the best care possibly by creating an environment that fosters open communication and team work, according to John Toussaint, M.D., chief executive officer of ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value.

"The most important people in the organization are the people that deliver valuable care ... Our job as leaders is to support that value-creating activity," Toussaint (pictured right) said during his presentation at the 2014 American College of Healthcare Executives Congress in Chicago last week.

C-suite executives must limit strategies to advance quality and financial stewardship and deploy those initiatives by engaging in one-on-one dialogue with front-line workers who deal with the everyday business of the organization, said Toussaint, who won ACHE's 2014 Dean Conley Award for his article "A Management, Leadership and Board Road Map to Transforming Care for Patients," published in Frontiers of Health Services Management.

He suggests organizations identify potential problems by attending daily huddles and rounding to observe the work and determine if the standard of quality is in place and where it may be defective. Healthcare leaders should always ask themselves three questions and reflect on them when determining quality standards and whether the organization is meeting them, he said. 

  • Are my staff and doctors treated with dignity and respect by everyone?

  • Do my staff and docs have the training and encouragement to do work that gives their lives meaning?

  • Have I recognized my staff and doctors for what they do?

Toussaint also talked about borrowing lean management principles from the Japanese Toyota Production System, which uses the scientific method to plan, design and improve the work delivered by the teams of people that will deliver measurably better value.