Healthcare organizations face numerous challenges when it comes to ensuring safety, from everyday patient and practitioner well-being to addressing pervasive issues such as workforce shortages, staff burnout, and workplace violence. Consider these seven strategies for creating a safer and more secure environment within your workplace.
1. Establish purposeful governance models
Purposeful governance means addressing real organization issues, busting organizational “silos” and aligning people, process and technology to increase efficiency, drives continuous improvement and limits administrative bloat. The benefits are greater trust and accountability, improved risk assessment and response, improved working environments and better patient outcomes.
2. Take a collaborative approach to risk management and mitigation
Patient care is a collaborative effort in the same way that risk management, mitigation and response are everyone’s responsibility. That’s why it’s essential for healthcare organizations to resist the “blame and shame” trap and focus on a collaborative and systemic approach to track and address issues from intake to discharge.
A collaborative approach can also help organizations identify and learn from existing issues, improve practices and even prevent future problems. Risk management requires cross-functional leadership, but the investment can lead to better outcomes, greater transparency and a just culture built on continuous improvement.
3. Integrate patient safety reporting and procedures with policy and compliance data
Healthcare is a heavily regulated industry with numerous internal and external entities providing guidance, driving legislation and enforcing policy. With such an extensive risk portfolio, availability and measurability of risk data plays a crucial role in ensuring compliance.
Integrating policy into risk mitigation plans offers increased efficiency, transparency and improved decision-making, helping to conserve valuable time and resources and create a safer environment for patients and staff alike.
4. Address workforce shortages with data-driven staffing
Heavy workloads are driving stress, burnout, workarounds and errors across the industry. Adequate staffing is critical to improving patient outcomes and protecting against workforce shortages. Some professional organizations like the American Nurses Association are working toward evidenced-based policy and other measures to ensure safer staffing.
Many scheduling leads are well-attuned to their wards but leverage manual or offline resources to manage assignments. By using data to inform scheduling, schedulers can help identify and predict patterns, while also fostering equity, improved safety and strategic resource deployment based on the areas of greatest patient need.
5. Take concrete measures to address workplace violence
Workplace violence is a recognized hazard in healthcare, with healthcare staff being five times more likely to suffer a workplace injury. Instances of violence range from internal and external threats to intrapersonal conflicts and bias-driven issues. The increase in security measures and need for formal guidance, as well as the emergence of recent legislative efforts, are clear signs for immediate action.
By establishing formal methods for predicting, reporting, addressing and assessing events, we can help ensure everyone understands safety measures, compliance needs and available support resources.
6. Alleviate the burdens on healthcare workers
Administrative harm is a “quiet epidemic” in healthcare and administrative burnout can have a significant impact on patient experience. Burnout can also impact many other aspects of healthcare workers’ day-to-day and contribute to other issues facing the industry.
Take advantage of any opportunity to “get rid of the stupid stuff,” which not only helps to drive efficiency but also alleviates the administrative burden placed upon healthcare workers, returning time and energy to teams so they can refocus on what matters most: delivering safer care.
7. Emphasize the importance of good communication
Effective communication is often overlooked but plays a vital role in strategy and operations. It requires planning, collaboration, honesty, transparency, and empathy. Aligning expectations, roles, responsibilities, resources, and outcomes among all stakeholders, including patients and families, strengthens organizational communication and enables safer and better experiences for everyone involved.
Promoting safety is an ongoing effort that requires dedication and a collective commitment from all stakeholders. By implementing these strategies, healthcare organizations can create a safer, more secure workplace, ultimately leading to better outcomes for everyone involved in the care process.