First Do No Harm
The primary oath taken by healthcare workers encapsulates how healthcare leaders need to adapt their recognition programs to the current Coronavirus outbreak. Before we can recognize health care workers for their heroic actions, we must first keep their health and well-being as the utmost priority. Amid the COVID-19 global outbreak, it's likely to be an extremely stressful time for those who work on the front lines of healthcare.
Strategies for Healthcare Leadership
According to the American Medical Association (AMA), it's important now more than ever for health systems and healthcare organizations to create and ensure an infrastructure and resources to support physicians, nurses and care team members. To that end, the AMA is recommending some practical strategies for health system leadership to consider in support of their physicians and care teams during COVID-19.
The list includes the following guidelines:
- Build a resilient organization. Surveys can be used to track trends in stress levels, identify specific drivers of stress, and develop supportive infrastructures based on these drivers. Successful organizations will take a systems approach and focus on becoming a resilient organization prior to times of crises, rather than limiting their efforts to a focus on individual resilience. Resilient organizations will need to rapidly reconfigure their well-being priorities to meet the biggest new drivers of stress in a crisis setting.
- Redistribute workloads. Have physicians/Advanced Practice Providers (APP) who are at home (on quarantine or for childcare) manage the inboxes and phone calls of those who are at work in person. Clinicians not in the office can do phone visits, telemedicine, answer patient questions or be deployed to call centers and testing centers.
Allow medical assistants and nurses to make contributions according to their ability, with physician or APP oversight and discretion. This may include nurses or medical assistants taking verbal orders, performing computerized order entry, doing medication reconciliation or assisting further with visit note documentation. This will alleviate some of the workload on physicians and APPs.
- Institute interim policies. Ensure that paid time off and sick days remain unaffected for all employees for COVID-19 related illnesses. In addition, ensure that employees with COVID-19 related illnesses do not incur any out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. If feasible, consider the cancellation of all elective surgeries and the rescheduling all non-urgent outpatient visits. Provide caregivers information for how healthcare teams notify families after a COVID-19 death.
- Address caregivers’ emotional and mental well-being. Consider assigning therapists to strategic locations to provide easy access for staff. Continue to monitor the ability of your employee health and well-being staff to meet workload demands, personnel health and safety, resource needs and documentation practices.
Provide in the moment support including direct pathways for more intensive support needs through behavioral health teams and peer support groups. Elicit concerns/needs that require escalation and advocacy. Increase awareness of available support resources.
Consider making mental health resources available to families of clinicians as traumatic experiences from COVID-19 will affect them as well. Develop custom communication materials targeted to clinicians at the frontline of the COVID-19 response that clearly explain that your mental health care professionals are equipped to help them navigate the COVID-19 crisis and that the services are completely confidential.
Ensure your organization’s emergency response plan includes strategies to adequately handle a surge in requests for services.
If you'd like to read more about employee recognition in healthcare, click here to read the first article in a three-part series.
A Holistic Approach to Recognition
In this unprecedented time, it is more urgent than ever to focus on the total well-being of your caregiver staff. That’s why you will need a recognition technology platform that provides you unmatched communications, universal access, robust reporting, and easily accessible peer to peer recognition capabilities. These times demand no less. If you need these additional resources, give us a call. We’re here to help.