5 Insights on Safety, Quality, and the Future of Healthcare

Dr. Jonathan L. Gleason joined Jefferson Health as Executive Vice President and Chief Quality Officer in July 2019, just a few months before COVID-19 hit the U.S. His responsibilities around quality, safety, risk management, population health, patient experience, and clinical integration, all quickly became even more critical with the onset of the pandemic. Now, Gleason shares his insights and experience In this new SwipeSeries Snapshot.

Here are 5 highlights from our recent conversation with Dr. Gleason:

  1. COVID-19 forced healthcare leaders to look at care delivery through a different lens:
    “I arrived at Jefferson Health four months before the first cases were reported in China, so my time at Jefferson has been dominated by this unprecedented event. Philadelphia truly was the first wave of the first wave and it’s been an extraordinary experience,” he said. “From a leadership perspective, all of us gained 10 years of experience in about six months because the issues were so complex and extraordinary. The pace of complex and critical decision making was extreme. I can tell you that what we just went through was not a corporate exercise. It was a human crisis. It was a profoundly human experience.”

  2. Safety is the gateway to commerce and can help fuel recovery:
    “It is an intuitively true statement that safety is the gateway to commerce,” he said. “Think of the first time that you went to a coffee shop after the first surge of the pandemic. Your calculus on that was around safety and risk – and the same is true for patients in healthcare. I would argue that safety has always been the gateway to commerce. It has just been less apparent in the past.”

  3. Leadership during a health crisis is very important:
    “One of the core principles of high reliability is deference to expertise.  During the first six months of the pandemic, it was critical that leaders deferred to experts in critical areas such as supply chain and infectious diseases.  My mantra during the pandemic, while working with such incredible experts was – Don’t let me let you down, and don’t let me get in your way.”

  4. Trust is critically important:
    “Relationships between health systems and the communities they serve is incredibly important and is something that has to be maintained over decades. If people don’t trust their healthcare providers, then they won’t receive the care that they need.  It isn’t enough for healthcare organizations to inform their communities – we have to build and maintain trust.  Education is only impactful within the context of a trusting relationship.”

  5. Empowering healthcare consumers is essential to succeeding in the post-COVID era:
    “There's general recognition that healthcare should just be better,” he said. “The consumer-centric transformations occurring around us, like Uber, have set a high bar. An Uber driver shows up in two minutes for a quarter of the price. This makes healthcare still feel so complicated even though we’ve done great things to improve it.”

Gleason also stressed that healthcare organizations have a lot of work to do moving forward to resolve the financial crisis that the pandemic will leave behind for years or decades to come. “All of what we do to incorporate our learnings into a better operating model is going to occur within significant financial constraints,” he said. “However, financial challenges necessitate change. We have an opportunity to be the stewards of that change. That's everybody's really core responsibility as we redesign the system”

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