People go into healthcare to help patients. But the reality is that running a health system involves much more than what happens at the bedside. Managing resources, keeping up with regulations, and implementing other administrative strategies assumes much of what goes into making things work — but it can sometimes generate conflict between leadership and clinical staff.

So how do leaders ensure their care teams are supported and heard to reduce this friction?

In this episode of the Memora Health Care Delivery Podcast, we talk with Lara Burnside, an executive consultant and former SVP and Chief Experience Officer at JPS Health Network, about how to bring everyone to the table to make critical organization decisions and, ultimately, improve care delivery for all stakeholders.

Supporting care teams means thinking beyond scores

What happens in hospitals doesn’t stay frozen in time. Health systems are subject to scrutiny via patient surveys required by regulatory institutions to ensure quality care delivery. In turn, organizations are assigned scores that indicate how they live up to industry standards — and these ratings directly affect the bottom line, including Medicare reimbursements. 

Health executives everywhere have rationally laser-focused on tracking scores and pivoting practices to move the needle. But, Lara argues, emphasizing scoring too heavily when speaking with care team members can muddy the messaging and distract physicians from core concepts that can yield positive results.

Lara says, “As I’ve built my career, my goal has been to support clinicians and help them understand how doing certain things actually impact the way patients get better or the way patients can participate in their plan of care. So rather than it being about a score, it’s more about a partnership.”

By concentrating on the patient-provider relationship — instead of just the numbers — Lara suggests healthcare organizations can improve results while giving everyone a better experience. She explains, “The ultimate outcome is truly creating an environment that feels good for the physician and feels good for the patient.” 

Input from every care team level is needed to make the right digital healthcare decisions

Healthcare leaders need to include the workforce in decision-making — and that goes for adopting new digital healthcare technologies, too.

Lara remarks, “There is a circular impact that happens when it comes to running a healthcare system. Part of it is the clinical side and part of it is the operational side … there’s a balance. It’s sort of like the same connection of when we started with technology in the healthcare system. Technology has to be coupled with this very personalized care, because it’s the combination of high tech [and] high touch that really gives you the blend of a really amazing experience. It’s the same thing when it comes to executives [and] physicians … one can’t exist without the other.”

That’s why involving frontline staff and care teams in conversations about the best healthtech options for the organization is so essential. Lara adds, “When we have clinicians and operators at the table together, willing to listen to each other … that is the start. And yes, you have to have clinicians at the table. Without that, there’s no way you can get that perspective on what it’s like to serve at the bedside.”

Healthcare needs to learn from other industries to improve and extend care delivery

Delivering quality care involves levels of communication, stress, vulnerability, and risk absent from most other professions. But, Lara explains, that doesn’t mean healthcare can’t learn from other industries about cutting wait times, streamlining check-ins, and providing better patient and clinician experiences.

A big lesson to learn from sectors outside of health? Lean in to technology.

Lara says, “There are definite things healthcare has to learn from other industries … At the end of the day, our consumer — if we’re going to use that term — wants exactly the same thing we’re getting in other industries. Finding ways that we can use technology to accelerate care delivery models is critically important.”