Collaboration has become a prime cultural value for today’s organizations. Across industries, a collaborative workplace is increasingly seen as beneficial to both employer and employees, and is even considered a competitive advantage.
Healthcare is not new to collaboration. Consultations among care team members have been a mainstay of patient care.
And collaborative research has enabled breakthroughs that may not have been possible with a single-specialty focus. More recently, shared decision making (SDM) — a collaboration between patient and provider on joint care decisions — has taken its place in patient-centered care.
A relatively new form of collaboration is happening when selecting technology solutions, particularly those that support emerging models of care, enable better clinician efficiency, and enhance patient experience. These solutions have an effect not only on digital capabilities, but also on clinical workflows and business results. Traditionally the domain of IT, there’s a growing realization within health systems that cross-disciplinary input is valuable, if not a necessity.
Healthcare IT investments are increasingly decided collaboratively by cross-department stakeholders. The core group is typically IT, clinical, and business decision-makers, with others brought in as needed. Their shared priorities include patient and provider experience, staffing optimization, workflow efficiency, security/PHI privacy, and containing costs. Each stakeholder also brings their own role-related interests and expertise to the discussion.
With today’s top focus on patient experience, one of the most important voices being added to the mix is that of patients. Likewise, there is growing recognition that provider experience is just as important, affecting both patient care and provider retention. Clinician and staff input should be considered because these decisions will significantly affect their workday.
As care delivery evolves, hybrid care becomes permanent, and we move beyond the exam room, here are views from three healthcare leaders on how collaboration brings the right voices to the conversation — resulting in better decisions with benefits for all stakeholders.
1. Optimizing workflows
In the ultra-busy, demanding clinical environment, it’s painfully obvious when workflows need improvement, but not necessarily how. Clinicians and staff can identify bottlenecks and glitches but have neither the time nor the specialized skills needed to troubleshoot and fix what’s not working well.
It’s even more challenging with virtual care workflows. While not new, telehealth is being instituted widely today by organizations and clinics that may have no prior experience with this delivery model. New workflows are being created from the ground up. Input by multiple stakeholders is particularly valuable at this formative stage.
To take virtual care to the next level, PeaceHealth AVP Will Weider says, “We need people who look at this from a workflow and optimization perspective and really rethink how to provide care beyond the clinic, beyond the exam room.”
How to accomplish this?
Says Weider, “The CIO is part of a team of clinical and operational leadership-process improvement experts. We need to all work together in lockstep to figure out how to bring the right process and the right technology to achieve the best results for physicians and patients.”
2. Operationalizing virtual care technology
When the workflows are instituted and virtual care becomes part of an organization’s care delivery model, IT can step back and see where virtual care technology fits into the hospital infrastructure. The next step is to operationalize that technology and truly integrate it into overall IT strategy and deployments.
Dr. Katherine A. Mansalis, CMO of INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center, believes the best way to do that is by collaborating with technology vendor partners. “What we might not be thinking about to the extent we need is how to partner with our technology firms to supplement virtual care everywhere.”
But the right technology partner is critical. They must “…truly understand the healthcare delivery landscape, the patient experience, as well as the complex regulatory requirements that continue to change,” she says.
Ideally, they combine this insight with collaboration within their organization — if not, keep looking for the best partner.
Mansalis says, “While there are thousands of health tech startups, I think few of them are led by teams of patients and physicians, and maybe healthcare system operators who [know] enough to close the gaps to really operationalize the technology.”
3. Prioritizing new technologies
“Prioritizing new technologies and new directions is one of my sweet spots,” says Chief Digital Officer Aaron Miri of Baptist Health.
What’s his method? Collaboration. Miri focuses on getting input from people in a range of roles, all with a stake in the benefits of technology in healthcare settings.
“I enjoy getting out and talking to folks — everybody from the board all the way to the frontline caregivers.” He asks what their challenges are, what’s on their care wish list, and what their patients are asking for.
“The second part is making sure you partner with your CEO, COO, CMO — the whole alphabet C-suite,” he says, “to understand what their priorities are and how to help them accelerate to goal. When you take all those data points and mash them up together, it’s pretty clear what you prioritize and where technology can make the maximum impact.”
And the most important part of this collaborative approach? Says Miri, “That you were listening with intent.”
Collaboration is a key component of high-quality care delivery. The well-rounded technology decisions of today are building a future of better experiences and better outcomes.