Empowering Healthcare Leaders with the Right Management Tools

When you think of the word health care, what comes to mind?  I bet that there will be myriad answers.  Why? Because the health care as an industry is expansive.  Health care has always been a complex inter-weaving of providers, patients, consumers, regulations, and job-related functions from organizational shareholders within a company to employees completing direct task related job responsibilities.

The face of health care as we know it in 2017 is continuing to evolve as additional regulations are added through government mandated health care policies. The scope of work is increasing as regulatory and technical changes are made, all while reimbursement continues to decrease. Progress is often associated with a number of challenges to be met. 

As health care advances, the duties required within an organizational job function widens.  Shareholders are tasked with performing a balancing act of driving operational functions and clinical activities while managers tackle facilitating both clinical and operational objectives. Health care managers are expected to meet legal and moral obligations to continually strive to improve patient care while safeguarding the quality of care that each patient receives. Why is this a concern?

Direct care gaps may exist within an organization’s structure of communication from senior leaders down to mid-level managers.   Anyone who has worked in this industry for any length of time understands the implications of this issue.   Have you ever had a senior level manager tell you NOT to do a task, only to turn around within the same hour and have a mid-level manager request you to complete that very same task?  Why?

Because you’re in an industry that deals with people in every aspect of the word.  What does that mean? Humans are prone to error, over-involved with tasks, or perhaps, not assertive at setting limits for the staff or simply inclined to compensate in identified areas of weakness such as insufficient direct care employee staffing.  Understaffing is a long-standing issue in many health care organizations, which leads us to the idea of how senior leaders manage crises. 

So what does being a manager require?  It requires completing necessary management functions each day within an organization such as organizing, planning, directing, staffing, and controlling daily operations. These functions may include process implementation and sustainability, continuous improvement processes that include document management and change management, all while managing personnel, resources, and working to enhance patient and employee satisfaction.
When one of those functions fails to meet organizational expectations, or those of the manager, a crisis may result.  As a manager failing to meet expectations, how would work days be like?  Would you be withdrawn from your employees, or would you appear unapproachable and offensive in communications with your staff? Over the past several years, there has been increased reporting of bullying type behaviors from bosses within the health care industry. 

Could this be just a result of the increased demands on senior and mid-management to meet regulatory compliance or patient population demands? How would you fix this problem?  Wouldn't you search for tools to help?  Instead of identifying areas of underperformance, they often concentrate on staffing issues.

Managing in this way leads to a reactive approach that is ineffective. Instead, finances and time should be spent on how an organization’s lead management team can focus on being proactive before a crisis occurs. There are technologically savvy tools that exist today to assist with all these areas. 

At work, you may have encountered new managers that are new to a role but are expected to know how to accomplish their responsibilities. You may have witnessed employees being given instructions on what to do without being clear on objectives. You may have experienced this yourself at one time or another, and as you likely already know, the struggle is real! 

This can often lead to poor performance on your part, not because you don’t care, but because you are not provided with tools that will help perform various activities within your job description.  

Having outlined expectations and a program that trains new staff on their responsibilities would make work processes more efficient. If indeed there was an easier way to promote efficiency, increase productivity, decrease communication issues, and increase overall organizational performance not only within your team but for an entire organization, what positive outcomes would those have led to?   Think about the potential. 

 

 

References:

Parand, A., Dopson, S., Renz, A., & Vincent, C. (2014). The role of hospital managers in quality and patient safety: A systematic review. BMJ Open, 4(9), doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014- 005055

Summers, J., & Nowicki, M. (2002). Management by crisis. (Management Issues). (health care industry) (Brief Article). Healthcare Financial Management. Retrieved