As a health care leader in an ever-changing world, you know the importance of constantly rethinking the way you deliver care. In order for health care organizations to survive, they must consider how to transform traditional health care by harnessing the power of innovation.
Innovation in health care is similar to that in other industries. It takes into account a complex “ecosystem” of stakeholders and addresses how they interact with their environments to achieve a desired outcome. In health care, that desired outcome is shifting from managing diseases to attaining and sustaining a higher health status. In order to accomplish this, you need to look at health from both a social and behavioral perspective. This starts with building trusting relationships across the entire health care delivery system. Trust means the ability to depend on each other to achieve a common purpose. In the health care realm, patients, providers, and other stakeholders are all dependent on each other to achieve population health. Trust is widely recognized as being central to the successful doctor-patient relationship.
So how do you innovate in building trust? Here are three key steps to hold yourself, your providers, and your staff accountable for:
- Listen for meaning (their meaning). We all have the innate need to be understood. Yet, how many times do we ask questions and then start framing our own answer before we truly hear what others are saying? Don’t allow your own thoughts to continue after you ask for someone’s view. Stop, breath, and listen. Then you will be better prepared to ask the right follow-up questions to clarify their meaning. Summarize your understanding of their meaning and ask them to confirm before you move on.
- Create a seamless delivery of care that patients can count on. If you tell your patients you will get back to them with their test results, call them. Don’t wait until they call you frustrated because they haven’t received results from a test two weeks ago. Keep appointments on time as much as possible. If you’re running late by more than 10 minutes, let patients know so they know what to expect. If you address concerns before they actually become concerns, patients and others will feel more at ease and trust they placed their health in the right hands.
- Show respect for each patient as a person. Know who they are, what’s important to them, who their family is, and what they value. Don’t assume they want the same thing as every other diabetic, hip replacement, or cardiac patient. They are scared, confused, tired, alone, overwhelmed, unsure, and sad. Make it a point to know what they really feel so you can make every effort to see them for who they really are. They need to trust that you care for them and about them.
Achieving and sustaining health requires a team of people working together with complete trust toward the same goal. Focus on strong relationships and building trust across the care continuum to make population health a reality.
Author: Tina Nazier, Director, Health Care Strategic Alignment