What do you think of when you think of healthcare today? Rising insurance premiums? The debate over Medicare for All? Pre-existing conditions? For clinicians in hospitals and other facilities, these concerns are likely secondary to one primary focus – caring for sick patients.
Everyone wants to find purpose, or meaning, in their work and in their lives. Psychology Today goes so far as to say, “Living life on purpose will translate to better well-being for you, your family, and your world.” Since we’re in the business of well-being, these are important words to consider, especially in turbulent times fraught with fears ranging from climate change to the new coronavirus.
As CipherHealth’s newest employee, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to live – and work – with purpose.
Fostering Greater Connection Along the Healthcare Journey
Lots of companies are calling themselves “mission-driven” or “purpose-driven”, but in my three-week tenure at CipherHealth, aka the “patient engagement company”, I’ve seen this one truly lives up to the promise. CipherHealth’s mission is to “foster connections along the healthcare journey to ensure the best possible outcomes for providers, staff, members, and their loved ones.”
In an era of increased staff accountability, nursing and PCP shortages, and regulatory penalties, not to mention time spent on EMR systems and manual reporting, healthcare professionals are spending more time in front of their computers and less time with patients. A 2017 study by HealthAffairs showed that there was actually a decline in the time physicians were spending on face-to-face visits with patients, while the time allocated to “desktop medicine” – including communicating with patients through a secure patient portal, responding to patients’ questions online, and sending staff messages – increased. Screens are coming between doctors and their patients.
Getting Back to “Purpose” in Healthcare
Thankfully, it’s not all doom and gloom for the care industry. Patients are not interruptions in our work – they are the purpose of our work. CipherHealth’s Chief Nursing Officer, Lisa Romano, MSN, RN, recommends starting with digital rounding tools to help make time with patients more purposeful.
Here is some of Lisa’s advice for humanizing technology to help you work “on purpose”:
- To make rounding more purposeful, remember that the impact of a friendly face, a smile, or a caring touch, on a patient can be profound.
- “Being Present” is the most powerful strategy you can employ to round with purpose. To center yourself, perform a “visual sweep” upon entering a room. Use your senses – Is it too hot or cold? Is it too dark or light? Does it smell? Does the patient look uncomfortable in their bed? Is the television too loud or too low?
- Introduce yourself. Ask if you can sit down next to the patient. Show them your digital rounding device and explain that it will actually enable you to spend more time with them, as their responses will be recorded in real time.
- Always follow through on patient requests immediately. Data demonstrates that patients who had issues that were promptly addressed while in the hospital gave higher top box HCAHPS scores than even those patients who had no issues. Lack of attention can cause them to lose faith in the care team or facility and lead to distrust and needless stress, on top of whatever pain and suffering they are already enduring.
- Listen for the “voice of the patient” so you can best represent that voice as their trusted advocate. Acknowledge their responses with your facial expression and verbal cues – even a gentle touch can signal your genuine concern.
- Everything that touches patients is part of their care, not just the procedures and medications they receive. This is where you as a person have the opportunity to make a memorable impact. Spending a few extra minutes with patients shows them you care and can go a lot further in their recovery.
With input from CipherHealth’s CNO, Lisa Romano, members of our clinical team, and others, we’re going to dig deeper into what it means to work purposefully in healthcare in future posts. So you can get more in touch with why you got into this profession in the first place – to help people feel better, or at least provide comfort to them if they don’t.
As for living purposefully myself, well, I’m going to get a massage now that I’ve finished this blog – in the office, provided by CipherHealth. Now that’s a company with a purposeful mission – to create engaged employees.
To learn more about how to make work as a clinician more purposeful, join Lisa Romano for her webinar on February 26, “Patients Are Not a Box to Check: Round With Purpose to Deliver Meaningful Patient Outcomes.”
Interested in learning more about working at a purpose-driven company like CipherHealth? We’re hiring!