“The individual must be in charge of this process. We cannot lose focus. It’s the individual. That’s the person who must be leading this future of wellness.”
That’s a quote from Greg Brannon, MD, FACOG, and medical director of Optimal Bio. Dr. Bannon opened day two of the Healthcare in the Age of Personalization Summit with a call to action to put individuals at the center of everything. He was speaking specifically about patients, but he mentioned a barrier that affects not just every aspect of healthcare but also businesses in every other industry: the fact that we have bureaucracies that we’ve built over time that keep us from centering anyone other than the organization.
Watch him in this short video here:
In May 2023, top healthcare leaders gathered virtually for a two-day summit to address the challenge of personalization in a field that admittedly needs a lot of standardization. Thirty-two thought-provoking speakers participated in keynotes and panel discussions covering topics such as patient centricity, consumerism in healthcare, data analysis, digital transformation, inclusive patient care systems, and population health management.
This article is the third of five that share highlights from that summit. In the first article, I addressed unleashing personalization in healthcare: beyond DNA, embracing individuality. In the second article, I summarized insights from sessions addressing transformation and consumerism in healthcare.
In this article, I’ll explore this idea of centering individuals – whether they’re patients or employees. In other words: how do you honor the individuality of the patients (or consumers) you serve, and the employees you need to recruit and retain.
Putting Patients First: Insights from Nurses and Physicians on Patient-Centered
Healthcare has evolved from a cottage industry that focused on restoring and maintaining individual health to a highly structured system that prioritizes the provider over the patient. However, healthcare providers are now shifting their focus toward a more patient-centered approach, putting the patient at the center of care delivery.
This panel discussion was moderated by Andrew Benedict-Nelson, a healthcare futurist and social change specialist. He started by acknowledging that healthcare providers – including the two nurses and one physician on the panel – view themselves as part of traditions of patient-centeredness that are hundreds of years old. They’ve all been taught to put their patient’s needs first, even if their organizational systems don’t allow that. He asked the panelists what being patient-centered means to them, where they learned that idea, and how they practice it today.
Mady Jansky RN, BSN, works in the Cardiovascular Thoracic Unit at St. Cloud Hospital. She mentioned the importance of being able to spend time and connect with patients as individuals.
Dr. Aluko A. Hope, MD, MSCE is associate professor of the Department of Medicine Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine at Oregon Health and Science University. He said he tries to connect with patients and admits it can be hard when there’s just not enough time. He said you “have to be intentional about naming that as an expectation.”
Rebekah Marsh, BSN, RN, CCRN is a clinical nurse educator at Harborview Medical Center at University of Washington Medicine. She addressed another barrier: when a policy or procedure doesn’t fit the patient. She said she and her team try to do everything it takes to make it work for the individual in front of them, and sometimes it works out in the end and that feels good: “Even if it wasn’t exactly what the patient wanted – the patient was involved, the nurse was involved, the doctor was involved, and everyone came together and made it happen.” But she also acknowledged that other times they have to stick to the standard model.
Watch this short video of highlights from that session:
Revitalizing Healthcare Talent: Insights from the Human Capital Roundtable
Patients aren’t the only ones whose individuality often becomes invisible. Employees at every level of an organization want to contribute to the mission at their fullest capacities, but too often get stifled.
In this session, panelists discussed the changing landscape of talent management and the specific skills and experiences clinical and non-clinical roles need. They also explored the requirements to be an effective recruiter today in what candidates value most in a job opportunity. While the previous session focused on being patient-centered, this panel discussed the importance of centering the needs and desires of employees: making sure leaders know that an employee’s individual identity is just as important as brand identity.
Kety Duron is senior vice president and chief human resources officer at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. She mentioned a shift in perspective that is important for HR professionals to make: “It’s not just about joining us, it’s about coming to Phoenix Children’s and growing your career learning with us.”
Tim Alba is a partner at Caldwell Butler & Associates. He discussed the importance of creating a working environment in which new employees not only want to stay, but they also want to achieve and move up, and also want to promote the organization to others.
Bernadette Finken is head of U.S. talent acquisition for Best Buy. She shared valuable insights from outside healthcare about trends in recruiting, hiring and retaining talented individuals. She said today recruiters take a more of an advisory and consultative role with each hiring leader to identify what skills and experience are needed and which ones could be trained on the job – thereby opening up the potential pool of candidates to a wider field of people with a variety of experience.
(Download the full report to learn more from Finken about how she’s been able to redeploy recruiters as hiring has slowed – in order to let recruiters activate their capacity within the organization in new ways.)
Watch this short video of highlights from their discussion:
Both of these sessions address a common barrier within large organizations in any industry: most organizations have a culture centered around the needs of the organization, rather than the needs of the individual patient, consumer or employee. Shifting the culture seems daunting. It requires confronting and disassembling attitudes and behaviors that have been deeply engrained for decades.
In the next article, you’ll hear directly from Gen Z why this is so urgent.