Healthcare News & Insights

‘Small wins’ strategy could lead to big improvements for hospitals

The pressure on hospitals to provide better quality care under higher scrutiny and with fewer resources can leave staffers feeling stretched thin. Here’s a strategy that can help keep them engaged and involved with your new initiatives.

200252891-001The healthcare journal Health Affairs recently released information it gathered on quality improvement initiatives from around the country. They’ve done over 150 interviews with hospital workers from front line providers to top-level administrators to try and figure out why some hospitals’ initiatives give great results while others flop.

In general, they found that getting participation from front line providers in quality initiatives is crucial for making meaningful improvements to your hospital’s care quality.

Too much to worry about

The biggest roadblock to getting that participation was initiative fatigue — front line providers feeling too overloaded with other demands to really care about other quality initiatives. This isn’t surprising since the frantic culture of hospitals already makes many staffers feel overwhelmed without quality initiatives adding one more thing to their plate.

All the different projects hospitals and staff can have going on at one time means a lot of competing and conflicting priorities to sort through. That initiative fatigue wears out staff and makes them less likely to implement a policy on the ground level because they feel it isn’t as relevant or important as other duties and procedures.

A best practice to prevent that sort of detachment is to focus on “small wins.” A hospital culture based on “small wins” keeps front line workers engaged with quality initiative goals and practices while building momentum for larger quality and safety improvements.

 Small victories, big successes

The principle is simple: Start slow and work your way up.

There’s a natural temptation with so many new demands on hospitals to only look for solutions that make big improvements in multiple areas at once. However, that thinking overlooks the fact that hospitals are complex facilities with many goals and limited resources to meet them. In short:  Progress takes time.

A “small wins” strategy acknowledges this fact and helps get front-line providers onboard with creating a culture of teamwork and improvement for future improvements.

Small innovations that directly apply to front line providers’ work make quality initiatives a regular part of their day-to-day instead of an added administrative burden. These small successes build a trust between front-line workers and administrators and motivate your staff to create larger changes.

Changing the way front line workers participate and contribute to your initiatives helps them take ownership of new policies and empowers them to find other relevant solutions to implement.

It’s important to keep an open mind to the suggestions and experiments your staff may offer. It may seem like their changes are too small to make a splash but there’s always the chance that what starts as a small trickle of ideas can lead to a flood of new improvements.

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