Skill #1: The ability to effectively support the frontline
“The increasing focus on patient experience and shared decision making is an important trend that many say is long overdue, but it also requires a significant amount of change,” says Angood.
The challenge of improving patient experience from a leadership perspective is to better manage patient-centered care and shared decision making while also helping patients understand the complexity of healthcare, he says. Leaders need to create an environment that allows patients to have an active role in their healthcare and have a good experience while also making them realize that what is good for them may not always be what they want.
How to accomplish this? An improved patient experience starts at the frontline, says Paul DeChant, MD, MBA, a senior advisor with Simpler Healthcare, a management consulting firm with a focus on Lean transformations. The CEO’s role is not to offer a better patient experience, he says, but to support those that can. “All those frontline folks report to a supervisor who reports to a manager who reports to a director,” he says. “All that focus is on healing, and that’s the responsibility of the people on the frontlines who need the support of the chain of command.”
One way those at the helm can support the frontline is to focus on their well-being, particularly the clinician providers. Healthcare leaders need to address caregiver burnout and attempt to resolve their frustrations within the system. “How do you manage the paradox of improving systems that are slow and gradual while also improving the work environment of providers?” says Angood. “You have to be collaborative and listen a lot. More and more what I’m appreciating is there’s a sense of humility leadership provides that, by being humble, promotes a sense of trust and accountability.”