It's critical that the conversations healthcare leaders have about the current state of the industry evolve.
Healthcare is a constantly evolving field. New research, new trends, and new technologies emerge every year that have the potential to make a significant impact on the healthcare sector. As such, it's critical that the conversations healthcare leaders have about the current state of the industry evolve as well.
Healthcare leaders shouldn't only stay up-to-date on these advancements, but they should use them as a lens to look within their own facilities. This helps to hold them accountable and ensures they're using emerging ideas and resources to identify any issues or areas of improvement so they can continue offering the best care to their patients and creating working environments where employees can thrive.
So, what should healthcare leaders be talking about right now? Here are some of the most significant conversations I believe leaders should be having today.
One of the most significant challenges facing healthcare leaders today is workforce retention. Because of this shortage of healthcare workers, which has only gotten worse since the pandemic, many hospitals and healthcare facilities are struggling to retain their staff. Higher turnover rates of employees can lead to a decrease in the quality of patient care, so it's essential that healthcare leaders focus on retaining their workforce.
One strategy healthcare leaders have leaned on is offering more training and professional development opportunities. Providing opportunities for staff to learn new skills and advance their careers can help keep them engaged and motivated. Additionally, offering competitive salaries and benefits can also help to retain staff. This includes offering flexible schedules, work-life balance options, and other incentives that can make working in healthcare more appealing.
Healthcare workers also demand more positive workplace cultures where support, collaboration, and empowerment are part of a facility's commitment to staff. This includes fostering open communication, providing recognition and appreciation for a job well done, and promoting a healthy work-life balance.
Systems and processes must be designed around the needs and experiences of that facility's patients. By focusing on the patient experience, healthcare leaders can create a more efficient and effective healthcare system that improves satisfaction and, more importantly, outcomes.
One way to do this is to involve patients in the design process. This can involve asking for patient feedback and incorporating patient preferences into treatment plans. Healthcare leaders can work to simplify the healthcare system by reducing wait times, streamlining processes, and providing clear and concise information to patients. But this also includes designing spaces that are both welcoming and comfortable as well, which is all the more important in senior care facilities where senior patients require specialized care and support.
The design of skilled nursing facilities can have a significant impact on the health and wellness of senior patients. For example, the layout of the facility should be designed to promote mobility and independence, with features such as handrails, non-slip floors, and wide hallways to accommodate wheelchairs and other mobility devices. The right design can also promote socialization and engagement among patients as well through common areas and outdoor spaces.
Healthcare technology is an area that is rapidly evolving, with new innovations emerging every year, from electronic health records and telemedicine to artificial intelligence and robotics.
One of the most significant benefits of healthcare technology is improved patient outcomes. For example, electronic health records can provide healthcare providers with access to a patient's complete medical history, allowing for more accurate diagnoses and treatment plans. Additionally, telemedicine can provide patients with access to healthcare services remotely, reducing the need for travel and increasing access to care while also improving the efficiency and effectiveness of care delivery.
Healthcare technology can also benefit workers too. It can streamline processes and automate routine tasks so employees have more time to focus on patient care and less on administrative tasks. Robotics is becoming an increasingly common way for staff to automate tasks such as medication dispensing and cleaning, which has proven incredibly valuable to employee well-being, but also patient care and outcomes as well.
Mental health disorders affect millions of people worldwide and can have a significant impact on their overall health and well-being. Healthcare leaders need to focus on providing high-quality mental health care to their patients to improve their overall health outcomes. By integrating mental health services into primary care, screening for mental health issues during routine visits, and providing access to mental health services, healthcare providers can identify and treat mental health issues early on, reducing the need for more intensive treatment in the future.
Mental health is also important within skilled nursing facilities. Loneliness and social isolation are significant risk factors for depression and anxiety among seniors, which can have a negative impact on their overall health. Building time into patient schedules for social activities, such as game nights, music performances, or art classes, allow residents to interact with one another and build relationships. But healthcare workers in these facilities can also be negatively impacted by anxiety and burnout as well, which can lead to decreased job satisfaction, reduced productivity, and lower quality of care. This is another reason why healthcare leaders must prioritize the mental well-being of their staff. I gave some examples above of how to do this, but leaders should consider offering mental health services, such as counseling and support groups, to staff members, as well as providing education on stress management and self-care practices.
Healthcare leaders have a responsibility to stay up to date on emerging trends and educate themselves and their staff on these topics to continue providing high-quality care and improving the overall health of their communities.
Melissa Powell is COO of Genesis Healthcare