How to Improve Safety in Healthcare

“See something, say something” is no longer an effective way to improve safety in healthcare, especially when workers aren’t sure who is on the receiving end of their elevated concern.

When was the last time you thought about how to make a meaningful safety improvement in healthcare? Did you know that employee-driven feedback is often the catalyst in the industry to push innovation and medical care forward?

In many cases, those changes have their root in feedback from a worker’s vantage point. Maybe a doctor mentioned a set of symptoms he was seeing regularly, or a nurse identified a point in a process that always caused a hiccup and suggested a potential way to improve it.

Feedback is a driver of change, and in healthcare, continual improvement is something we’re always striving for, both as a staff member and as a patient. Tweaks and improvements are especially important when it comes to patient and employee safety within the healthcare setting.

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Nurses and other key healthcare staffers can often provide insights into deficits within care guidelines and suggestions on how to improve them. That’s where offering a continual feedback mechanism is so important.

The Dual Channels of Healthcare Feedback
It’s important to note that there are two overarching categories of feedback within a healthcare setting: The first is emergent and must be handled immediately. The second is less urgent and offers valuable insight for making a case to improve.

“In an emergency situation, obviously, employees need to make a more immediate connection with someone to report an issue,” says Max Farrell, CEO and Co-Founder at WorkHound. “But WorkHound is a solution to employee communication. Ultimately, every communication breakdown presents a potential risk in the healthcare setting, so it’s vitally important to offer workers an outlet for their feedback.”

While feedback in any industry plays an important role, it’s an especially necessary component in healthcare settings, where seemingly small issues can turn into significant problems very quickly. 

“I think a lot of healthcare organizations use ‘see something, say something’ as a universal phrase to encourage employees to have their voices heard,” Farrell says. “But sometimes employees simply don’t know where to go to share their feedback. Or maybe they do and are concerned about repercussions.”

Feedback’s Safety Role in the COVID-19 Pandemic

The timeline of COVID-19’s emergence and impact in the United States alone presented volatility in healthcare. During the course of just a few months, the virus spread across the country and created chaos — and a significant burden on the healthcare system.

By nature of the field, healthcare workers are presented with significant physical and emotional stress on a good day — which means having a sounding board for feedback is even more important during a pandemic.

With a tool like WorkHound, healthcare organizations can work not only to improve patient safety but also to prioritize their employees. This includes multiple facets, encompassing both physical safety and emotional health.

“Employees don’t always want to openly share that they’re overwhelmed — they don’t want to look weak,” Farell says. “I know that any medical professional is trained on how to handle trauma in a patient, but that’s often overlooked when it comes to healthcare workers or caregivers. This can help leaders and other admins know when employees need a break and when they’re at risk of burnout.”

Raising that silent alarm is especially important right now, with changing dynamics in the way that many healthcare organizations and non-clinical employees are working.

“HR teams are working from home in some cases,” Farrell says. “And even if they’re not, they’re separated from what clinicians are actually seeing on the floor and what changes and information they need in this evolving climate. WorkHound provides a tool for overcoming that barrier and improving safety all around.”

Ready to put our feedback tool to work for your healthcare organization? Sign up for a free consultation to learn how we can help.