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Our Take

Engaging frontline staff in patient flow

Framing patient flow initiatives in terms of organizational efficiency and financial health will rarely engage clinicians to get on board with the changes.

Instead, executives need to ground efforts to improve patient flow in what is most important to clinicians: care quality. Connecting patient flow initiatives to the organization's broader quality strategy will help ensure frontline staff feel ownership and accountability for the success of those initiatives.


The conventional wisdom

Many executives wish clinicians focused more on patient flow, given how important it is to organizational efficiency and financial health.

Executives tend to use a logical approach to encourage staff to embrace these throughput initiatives. They explain why the efforts will benefit the organization and repeatedly remind staff to prioritize patient flow.

However, clinicians often perceive these initiatives as additive work that doesn't seem to provide immediately obvious benefits to patient care. Executives tend to emphasize how important patient flow is to the organization's efficiency and finances. But that doesn't address clinician concerns, and they struggle to fully invest in these initiatives.

So, despite launching multiple throughput improvement efforts, many organizations continue to see stalled outcomes.


Our take

Patient flow improves only when clinicians are fully invested in the efforts logically with their minds and emotionally with their hearts. Leaders need to ensure that multidisciplinary teams understand the impact of flow not only on organizational health but also—more importantly—on patient care.

This type of engagement strategy is crucial because patient flow relies so heavily on the minute-by-minute decisions clinicians make in a patient’s care progression. Clinicians must be fully on board with the organization’s approach because just one small deviation can derail an entire strategy for patient flow. When leaders implement an engagement strategy that resonates with clinicians’ hearts and minds, clinicians are more likely to buy-in to new throughput initiatives.


Two strategies to engage frontline staffin patient flow 

Leaders have to contextualize patient flow in terms of what is most important to clinicians: quality of care. It’s important to use different strategies to help clinicians see the benefits of fully adopting the organization’s patient flow approach—not just for the organization, but for patients too. Start by examining clinicians’ perceptions of patient flow and then reposition your initiatives to be in line with clinician thinking. 
  • Strategy

    Lead with quality

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  • Strategy

    Anticipate and respond to emotional reactions to workflow changes

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