Industry Voices—How healthcare employees on the front line can help drive change

A physician in scrubs in a hospital hallway
Healthcare professionals on the front line have the potential to be the biggest catalysts for driving change based on their first-hand experience. Healthcare leaders who overlook this wealth of knowledge are missing out. (Getty/NanoStockk)

There is a common misconception in the healthcare industry that key decisions are driven exclusively by leadership teams. The belief by employees is “I’m just a … nurse, scheduler, radiologist, pathologist, etc.”

Yet this perceived reality can’t be further from the truth. Healthcare professionals on the front line have the potential to be the biggest catalysts for driving change based on their firsthand experience. Healthcare leaders who overlook this wealth of knowledge are missing out.

Consider, for example, the detailed knowledge of surgical case teams. When communication breaks down, it is front-line employees that are left scrambling.

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These same front-line employees also share their frustrations and triumphs with colleagues at other facilities. During these discussions with colleagues, it isn’t uncommon for staff to learn about lesser-known or new technology. Yet because they believe they are “just a …” or there isn’t open-door communication at their hospital or surgery center, this knowledge never makes it to key decision makers.

Employees continue using antiquated communication methods like phone, fax and text despite knowledge of viable solutions, like a surgery coordination hub, that could easily solve scheduling errors and miscommunication. Meanwhile, patient satisfaction and revenue are affected as a result of OR delays and cancellations caused by miscommunication.

Creating an open culture

Healthcare executives continually look for ways to reduce costs and improve the patient experience. Many times, the answer to these problems exist within their own organization. Creating an environment that encourages, even rewards, the sharing of knowledge among all employees is key to driving change.

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It’s also a great way for healthcare leadership to learn about inefficiencies and new technology that can help streamline day-to-day operations.

Putting processes in place that foster the exchange of ideas is key to moving forward. Bi-weekly and monthly meetings and an incentive system—a monetary award or a plaque on the wall—are just some things to consider when putting a program in place.

Incorporating ideas and solutions from those with first-hand knowledge of inefficiencies is key to improving patient care, patient satisfaction and revenue. Otherwise, without awareness that an issue—or solution—exists, change is not possible.

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