Using Positivity in the Workplace to Improve Patient Care

Marketing Manager

There are many variants when it comes to improving patient safety and care quality.  We recently discussed how employee engagement could play a pivotal role, in conjunction with cultural transformation and motivating physicians, just to name a few. Our ever-changing healthcare system is currently undergoing several adjustments—from ICD-10 system upgrades to value-based payment models—so it’s reasonable to assume everyone’s under great pressure.

Among all these changes, you’ll find one common denominator, patient care. Today, I’d like to explore how positivity in a healthcare setting can affect the quality of care. An article published by Nurse Leader states there are six positive psychology principles that, in combination, create an optimally functioning healthcare organization: passion, relationships, optimism, proactivity, energy and legacy, also referred to as the “PROPEL” principles.

  1. Passion was found to be the most important for an organization that seeks to achieve an optimal level of functioning. Maintaining passion in hospital staff requires mapping out a shared vision of being able to work together in ways that meet the needs of all the people involved. Having a vision based on the values that are most important to a person sparks motivation, which “propels” him or her to achieve their goals.
  2. Relationships work well when there are more than five positive interactions for every negative encounter. To attain that ratio, leaders must demonstrate interest in the lives of their staff and be enthusiastic in support of employees’ efforts to create a positive life, at home as well as at work.
  3. Optimists are able to deal with problems by finding mutually satisfying solutions. Highly effective leaders encourage their staff to help them troubleshoot problems at hand. Recognizing and appreciating their positive contributions will help induce optimism.
  4. Proactive people achieve optimal functioning by consistently practicing their strengths. Proficient leaders recognize the strengths that have led their organization to achieve positive results in the past and are capable of understanding how their team’s skillset will help them reach their goals.
  5. Energy is required to regularly recharge employees so they can sustain their highest level of functioning. Successful organizations are able to help their staff regenerate the energy they need to retain their passion and persistence in working toward their shared vision.
  6. Legacy leads to the highest level of optimal functioning. Passion within an individual is sparked when the person pursues his or her own purpose. They leave a legacy by making a meaning difference in the lives of others.

In a case study at a major academic medical center, effectively applying the “PROPEL” principles enabled an underperforming department to become highly functioning in just one year. According to independent research by HealthSteam, job engagement score increased from 3 percent to 87 percent as compared to other hospitals in the national database. The staff satisfaction score rose from 1 percent to 85 percent, and the staff retention rate improved 49 percent. Additionally, other reports revealed significant improvements of sick leave by 75 percent.

Taking the initiative to influence a stagnant workplace has proven to deliver positive results. Applying strategies and policies to help your team regain their passion and confidence will improve patient care and satisfaction; realigning your organization’s goals toward your vision will benefit both your staff and patients alike.

Does your healthcare organization suffer from an underperforming workforce? If so, what steps have you taken toward improving care? Let us know your thoughts.

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