Managing Change for Better Patient Outcomes

By Tim Taylor, RN, BSN, Manager of Intensive Care Unit, Methodist Mansfield Medical Center

The latest buzz in health care is the proposed linking of patient outcomes to hospital reimbursement, slated for implementation in 2012. This heightened awareness of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reimbursement and value-based purchasing is, frankly, a little overwhelming.

Tying patient outcomes to hospital reimbursements signifies a drastic change in how hospitals do business. The bottom line, literally, translates to what’s happening at the bedside. More importantly, though, this change will help us focus even more on patient outcomes, and that makes the changes worthwhile.

At Methodist Health System, we’re committed to helping clinicians understand why the pressure is on and how this impacts not just us, but hospitals everywhere. We recognize there are challenges at the beginning of most procedural changes. Understanding what is driving the change often makes it easier to embrace.

Realistically, change doesn’t always mean processes will be easier or faster. When hospitals implemented bedside medication verification (BMV), for example, we realized there were a lot more steps in the process than we anticipated and the change involved more work. However, as a result of this change medication errors across the country have been significantly reduced. This change has clearly improved patient outcomes.

Knowing how an organization manages change is important, especially as we move into uncharted territory. An organization that is committed to its patients and employees is an important indicator of the work environment. If you’re considering a career change, you might want to do some research and ask your prospective employer where they are in this process. Your questions can include:

  • What are the hospital’s CMS data and patient satisfaction scores, and how do they rank?

  • How does leadership interact with clinicians?

  • How engaged is the staff?

  • What kind of teamwork does the facility demonstrate?

  • Will you be heard and valued for your expertise at the bedside?

  • Does the staff understand why the changes are being made?

  • Is there buy-in and commitment from those performing the work?

At Methodist, patient outcomes have always been paramount. It’s what we’ve been trained to do, and in spite of any changes our reality is patients are No. 1.

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