In medicine, we tend to separate the “hard” skills of medicine from the “soft” things that simply don’t matter so much. For instance: surgical skill matters; the comfort of your waiting room chairs doesn’t.
Many providers have an ethos that is almost sports-like in its single-minded focus on executing the hard calls, crucial maneuvers, and life-saving techniques on behalf of the people we serve. Things like the tone we use with our colleagues, whether we sit down and listen to an aide with an idea, or even seeing a patient post surgery — these can all be dismissed as relatively inconsequential.
Well, it turns out this approach is wrong — and there’s data to back me up.
I’m not sure whether professionalism and teamwork are getting better or worse in healthcare, but there is certainly a lot of room for improvement. It used to be that there was a bit of a “gentleman’s club” attitude, that, while exclusive to a very specific group of people and often excessively hierarchical, at least it had high standards for the work. Flash forward to current times, and (thankfully) medicine is less exclusive and more democratic… but many providers also treat it more like a job than a calling.
All of which is to say: not every provider has high standards for their personal conduct, professionalism, and team leadership. For so long, at ClickCare, we’ve been advocates of all of these things. Our own medical experience is that politeness, professionalism, respect, listening, collegiality, and leadership all are the foundation of good medicine. In fact, we've always believed that good patient care simply can't exist unless these "softer" elements are in place.
This has not always been a popular viewpoint. Many doctors and healthcare providers have challenged us on the importance of these approaches, saying that they don't have time to concern themselves with that kind of thing. Certainly, we have the ROI of iClickCare to prove the validity of these approaches. But we've never had a more general confirmation of the importance of professionalism — until now.
A recent study in JAMA found that “Patients whose surgeons had higher numbers of coworker reports about unprofessional behavior in the 36 months before the patient’s operation appeared to be at increased risk of surgical and medical complications." Other studies also found links between the way healthcare providers treated their teams and the effect on their patients. Why? Well, as JAMA reminds us, “For surgical teams, high reliability and optimal performance depend on effective communication, mutual respect, and continuous situational awareness.” Part of the core job of a surgeon is to be a team leader — and that means creating a team that displays and expects respect and professionalism. If that's not the case, the team doesn't function as well, and outcomes simply aren't as good.
I'll be blunt. Just as it is your responsibility to scrub before surgery, it is your responsibility to collaborate effectively with your team. Good patient outcomes depend on both; and both are within your control. Demand the tools to collaborate, certainly. But don't let yourself off the hook.
Learn how other providers do medical collaboration quickly and easily here: