5 Steps to Boost a Culture of Accountability at Your Hospital

collaborationHospitals are made up of mission-driven professionals dedicated to improving patient outcomes.  Leaders are regularly choosing between endless priorities to optimize clinical and executive operations, while healthcare workers constantly strive to provide quality and efficient care.  However, in fast-paced, enterprise organizations, communication around how these groups can best align to achieve commons goals, is often lost. With so many important factors at stake, creating a culture of open communication and shared accountability from the top down, offers all stakeholders a sense of personal and institutional responsibility to work together and continuously improve.

Accountability & Alignment Drive Success

Innovation is top of mind for many health systems today.  When evaluating and taking the steps to adopt a new technology, a sense of accountability and alignment around organizational goals are important for long-term success.  Studies show that when health systems pursue innovation efforts, the decision-making and implementation processes are accomplished more quickly and effectively when all stakeholders are aware, informed, and held accountable.  According to a report by The Center for Connected Medicine, 88% of health systems that report they can implement and scale innovation ‘somewhat quickly’ have a formal process in place for doing so, compared with 23% of organizations that report scaling ‘somewhat slowly’ or ‘very slowly.’  For those able to move quickly, C-suite and service line leaders were the highest cited decision-makers involved in scaling innovation and internal initiatives were in place to provide clarity around goals, from the top-down.

Fostering Innovation for Hand Hygiene & Patient Safety

Proper hand hygiene is the most effective method to prevent the spread of infection, yet according to the CDC, clinicians wash their hands less than half the amount of times they should. Behavior modification is one of the most important ways to address hand hygiene compliance, and innovative solutions are available to tackle this challenge. Many leading hospitals are turning to electronic monitoring systems to collect accurate compliance information, leveraging powerful data to influence behavior change. Requiring healthcare workers to transition from manual, pen and paper observation, to an automated technology solution is a perfect example where clearly defined objectives and expectations for adoption and implementation are key drivers of success.

Here are five ways to empower accountability for all stakeholders, ensuring the implementation and adoption of a new technology, such as electronic hand hygiene monitoring, is effectively rolled out:

  1. Identify internal champions:  Designating leaders on both executive and clinical teams demonstrates organizational commitment to a mission.  Champions serve as resources to bridge questions, offer tips and best practices, as well as collect feedback on how a new program is working in accordance with the goals.  These leaders are also responsible for holding all stakeholders accountable for their role in helping drive the desired outcome. 

  2. Create awareness: Taking the time to formally introduce a new vendor or product before its installed creates a sense of trust and awareness.  Often times, decision makers invest in innovative tools for clinical use, but when the hardware arrive in hospitals, users are not aware or prepared on how to use them.  This is where internal champions can set aside time for questions and demonstrations, helping to alleviate fear of needing to learn something new in an already busy environment. In fact, professionals who have experienced positive technology implementations are more likely to consider the benefits of adopting new practices versus the possible difficulties or shortcomings.  For electronic hand hygiene monitoring, it’s important to educate users about everything from how to properly wear a badge to how the data is collected and used. 

  3. Establish clear expectations: Clearly defined benchmarks, objectives, and individual expectations are a must in creating and enforcing accountability.  While hand hygiene is one of the most obvious and important duties in healthcare, compliance rates are not always where they should be for optimal patient safety.  Manual observation has mislead organizations to believe that rates are 90%+, but automated tracked reveals percentages closer to 30-40%.  Setting an expectation that electronic monitoring is a systematic and effective way to set benchmarks for improvement, versus leveraged for punitive actions, enforces an organizational philosophy to improve overall quality and safety.  

  4. Build transparency: Facilities that share hand hygiene data in an open and transparent format, initiate accountability and trust.  Providing transparent insight about individual and group progress shows that there is nothing to hide. If everyone is held accountable for their actions, users feel more confident in their ability to perform, and less nervous about what the data might say on the back end.

    "We have created a culture of safety for hand hygiene monitoring and believe our clinical staff would agree. We all come to work to do the right thing and at the end of the day, proper hand hygiene is a non-negotiable expectation of the job. The data has been extremely helpful to enforce and acknowledge those requirements." — Jamie Swift, Ballad Health, Corporate Director Infection Prevention


5. Make hand hygiene, fun:
Finding creative ways to boost compliance is gaining momentum across facilities. Organizations are developing fun campaigns with mascots, trophies and rewards for top performers.  This may seem like common sense, but in fact, celebrations are often overlooked in busy workplaces.  Setting goals and recognizing success encourages friendly competition, pushing staff to take ownership of their own performance and the people around them.



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