Hospitals and health systems have demonstrated innovative leadership in acute care response throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The challenge going forward will be to continue the energy and enthusiasm of distributed, team-based, rapid problem-solving and use it to address other problems that organizations now face.
As for what executives can do to continue to free up time for staff creativity and support rapid learning while also ensuring quality and safety, senior leaders at two emergency field hospitals that were established during the pandemic’s initial surge recently shared 10 recommendations in Harvard Business Review.
Here are tips from NHS Nightingale London and Boston Hope Hospital:
The crisis revealed the capabilities of junior staff at both hospitals and they were eager to be given the authority to tackle difficult problems with a sense of urgency. Senior leaders deferred to expertise, not seniority, when choosing staff to address problem areas. Front-line staff were counted on to establish new care routines. When delegating, give a clear sense of accountability by clarifying expectations through goal setting and by defining acceptable process.
Don’t Put Off Making Tough Decisions
Create an inclusive and empowered work environment, where dissent, challenge, wild ideas and robust debate are encouraged. It’s still OK to close off unproductive lines of inquiry to preserve resources for more promising ideas.
Include Patients and Their Families
In the best hospitals, patients and their families are part of the team. At NHS Nightingale, where patients were unconscious on arrival, the Compassionate Care Team (comprising clinicians and chaplains) ensured that ventilated patients were always treated with dignity and that care was responsive to families’ needs and preferences. It found ways to bring relatives in full personal protective equipment onto the ward toward the end of life and used video when this wasn’t possible.