Elevate your trajectory to the Medical Practice Excellence Conference with content curated from our 2020 session schedule, exploring the big questions our speakers plan to answer this October, as well as conference news, updates and resources.
Sept. 21, 2020
Balancing the human touch with digital innovation to enhance patient experience
The COVID-19 pandemic has, in many ways, fostered the long-awaited technological breakthrough many healthcare advocates have been anticipating for years: the acceptance of telehealth and changes in regulation to fast-track and support virtual visits.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE, is a pediatrician, entrepreneur, consultant and author, who has served as chief of digital innovation at Seattle’s Children’s Hospital. While she celebrates the sudden embrace of remote sessions with physicians and specialists or the use of email and social media to keep connected, she also encourages providers to consider the human touch that’s still the biggest part of the doctor-patient experience.
“The COVID-19 pandemic brought on absolute necessity for change. In an unbelievably rapid time this past spring, we resurrected a philosophy that said we have to get to business and practice in a new way rather than taking three years to implement a telemedicine program,” she said in a recent episode of the MGMA insights podcast. “Some were stood up within a matter of days, which is emblematic to my experiences of working in health systems. But that really demands [that we ask], ‘what is our mission priority?’ What is the heart and soul of our organization?’”
After a decade and a half of personal experience attempting to promote the values of telemedicine, Swanson said providers across the country now have real-time experience with high-tech systems designed to keep their patients safe and happy. Learning the nuances to make that a valuable, long-term change requires a bit of acceptance on the part of medical professionals, she said.
“[When I started], there was always this concern that even the electronic health record on the computer in the exam room was taking away our ability to connect, to provide hands-on care, care that was deeply compassionate, accurate, timely and meaningful. There were lots of clinicians that were going against things like that. But I know that those who need help – patients and family or caregivers – and those who have help – doctors, nurses, phlebotomists – can have intimate connections in using digital technology. I know that from using Twitter to the masses, from using Facebook and from writing blogs and content.”
Swanson said the big test will be in the near future when the intensity of pandemic-related social distancing relaxes, and the medical community faces decisions on how deeply they will incorporate telemedicine into their permanent toolkit.
“Our freedoms will return to us in certain ways, when we have a more vaccinated population and we know better ways to take care of people. And when that comes back, do I want to choose a telehealth visit with my clinician, or are we going to see a surge of in-person demand?”
More than telemedicine, Swanson said the healthcare industry needs to consider the connected and ultimately profitable innovations consumer chains from Starbucks to Domino’s Pizza have made in providing fast and reliable virtual service. She’s even championed the use of voice-recognition devices such as Amazon Alexa to help streamline and personalize the patient experience in hospital waiting rooms.
“I think that the personalized aspects of this continue to demand openness and a chipping away at the paternity that still exists in healthcare – the idea that we as a system, me as doctor, deserve to kind of shepherd someone through the results in a certain way. Companies in the consumer space are trying to chip away at that, saying ‘systems aren’t going to own patient data, patients are going to own data.’”
You can hear more from Swanson at October’s virtual Medical Practice Excellence Conference
, where she’ll present a session called, “Balancing the Human Touch with Digital Innovation to Enhance Patient Experience.
Sept. 10, 2020
Mental agility and self-awareness are tools for success in a complex world
While healthcare managers have made their careers out of adapting to constant change in the industry, the ongoing disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic calls for flexible leadership.
Tasha Eurich is an organizational psychologist and author, best known for her online Ted Talks presentations and more than 15 years as a management consultant. She said the pandemic has made it critical for leaders to better understand themselves and their own motivations, to provide inspirational guidance for an overstressed employee population.
For some of Eurich’s clients, that’s meant taking a hard look at their on-the-job behavior. She recalled an executive client who was completely unaware that he resorted to yelling and screaming at staff in stressful situations, leading to high employee turnover. By getting the client to directly confront his own behavior and understand a better way to handle leadership, Eurich was able to help transform him into a practically new person – and turned that business into a success.
“What I’ve identified as really the meta or foundational skill for future-ready leadership is being self-aware,” she said. “Knowing who you are, how you come across and how you fit in the world.”
The path to self-awareness often involves asking a lot of questions, but Eurich said the results can be life-changing. She said leaders need to ask themselves “How am I showing up? What are my values? What are the things I need to hold on to? How do I manage my day-to-day stress by looking at the patterns and approaches that are going to be most helpful to me? How do I make sure I’m having the effect I want on my team?”
Eurich’s clients now span the business world and the globe, but her first professional work was serving as a leadership development for the CEO of a HCA hospital. She said she maintains many C-Suite contacts in the healthcare industry and said her insight about self-awareness remains especially pertinent in the evolving world of healthcare management.
“I was talking to a former client of mine, the chair of the medical staff at a large hospital, and what he told me is sort of a metaphor for what I’m seeing healthcare go through. He said, ‘volume is low, but acuity is high.’ There’s this weird paradox, where you have fewer people coming through the door – where’s everybody with the heart attacks?”
Eurich said that understanding personal motivations and building a sense of self-awareness can be especially pertinent to the world of healthcare in an ever-unpredictable 2020 and beyond.
“The one thing I know about healthcare workers is that they are some of the strongest, most resilient people, just by the nature of what they’re doing. So, I would put healthcare workers toward the top of the list in the long-term impact of the pandemic. We can do anything for a couple of months, because humans are amazing creatures. But over time, the level of burnout, even PTSD for those on the frontlines, is going to escalate. I hope this is an opportunity for us to shore up the support that we’re giving them.”
You can hear more from Eurich about using self-awareness to help cope with change and emerging trends at the virtual Medical Practice Excellence Conference
, where she will present a session called “Becoming a Future-Ready Leader.”