3 Tips for Great Health Care Management

March 13, 2015
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A recent article on the Harvard Business Review revealed that social capital expenditure is of a higher significance than financial capital to make effective healthcare reforms.

A recent article on the Harvard Business Review revealed that social capital expenditure is of a higher significance than financial capital to make effective healthcare reforms. Integrating this with quality healthcare management solutions, the act of demanding social capital expenditure will go a long way in instilling specific and long-lasting reforms in the healthcare system as it is a team more than it is an organization, all involved in their own way to deliver quality healthcare for all. 

How do you manage a team to ensure quality health care delivery? We have three tips to elevate health care management to greatness–along with real-life stories of organizations that did it right.

Integrate health care delivery systems into one model and instill a culture of shared responsibility among health care professionals.

health care managementKaiser Permanente is doing it. Their health care model has been getting global attention lately, with theUK health care system looking in closely to help them adapt the integrated system into the country’s health care system delivery.

The main driver for this change lies within its health care givers and providers. Everybody has this shared sense of responsibility for patients, regardless of their primary illnesses. Mayo Clinic gives patients this type of well-coordinated care. If a patient comes in complaining of shortness of breath and was referred to a cardiologist when it turns out that the real problem was lung disease, you can expect the cardiologist who first took in that patient to continue playing a role in that patient’s care, making there are no loose ends during and after the consultation. A Mayo clinic doctor said it best, They came because we’re the Mayo Clinic. So we all know that they are not really ‘my’ patients – they are ‘our’ patients.”

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This teamwork should extend to other health care providers. At Chicago’s Northwestern Medicine, its Integrated Pelvic Health Program provides care for patients with fistulas, uterine and vaginal prolapse and anal fissures. Doctors from different specialties – gynecology, surgery, urogynecology and even gastroenterology – are all hands-on with patient care. Joining the team are physical therapists that teach exercises to patients to strengthen muscles to get their pelvic problems in control. Physicians, surgeons, nurses and physical therapists know firsthand the delivery of health care for each patient. They are working as teammates.

Address issues that extend beyond the hospital.

Health concerns need to be addressed beyond the four walls of a hospital. Patient readmission is often high, especially in lower socioeconomic areas. This is because most of them lack the resources, education and follow-up required for their conditions. Contra Costa Health, a Bay Area safety-net provider, addressed these concerns in their area.

They started by asking patients in waiting rooms about their most important health concerns. 62% of them addressed not having enough food as their number one concern, followed by housing at 58%, then jobs and utilities. After identifying these concerns, Contra Costa initiated a partnership with HealthLeads, which trains college-aged “advocates” to address socioeconomic issues like the ones named by Contra Costa’s patients, and places the advocates in emergency departments and practices. HealthLeads helps address problems that fall outside of what traditional health care can do, such as access to food subsidies.

This initiative had profound impact on the patients. Physicians noted that patients with chronic illnesses fared better because they now have access to healthier food. Contra Costa’s CEO views their job as not to provide health care alone but to produce quality health for all. They went outside the traditional health care delivery system and found a way to collaborate with others to make a real change and alleviate their patients’ health problems from the root.

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Quality health for all should the big picture for the health care system. The health care system can’t do it alone. Collaboration is the key.

Practice transparency.

Transparency makes health care providers accountable for what they do. It also changes the way care is being delivered to patients. The University of Utah health care system used this practice to help physicians realize that every patient visit is a high stakes interaction.

The system started the “Find-a-Doctor” website where all patient comments can be posted after office visits. They were trying to paint a more accurate picture of the quality of care they offered to patients. Initially available internally with onlyUtah personnel seeing all data, they decided to go public with all the comments and ratings, even the ugly ones.

This had a profound effect on the Utah physicians as most comments have been extremely positive and inspiring, while the few negative ones impacted physicians positively—when transparency made them publicly accountable for their actions, it made them even more compassionate doctors to their patients, allowing the world to see how they care individually for their patients.

These three tips do not require that much financial expenditure or capital investment, but they do demand and will continue to demand a lot of social capital expenditure. The sooner any health care management changes the way their providers and caregivers work together and with their patients, the better.

Results will be impressive, impactful, and very effective in leading to positive relationships between health care provider and patient, ensuring quality health for all.

health care management / shutterstock