The Key to Innovating, Inspiring & Influencing: Leading with Heart

Nurse with child patient

In high-tech environments like hospitals, it is important for nurses and other care team members to have meaningful, high-touch moments with patients and families. It may sound like a contradiction, but we use technology to create these moments.

Within my organization, we strive to make our experience match our science – delivering an interactive healthcare experience where patients, family members, and staff are active, engaged and empowered participants across the continuum of care.

Among the human-centered innovations we use is real-time mobile rounding. Rounding with tablets helps nurse leaders proactively identify, address and track questions or concerns posed by patients or family members. Before we implemented the technology, I knew we couldn’t simply tell our nurse leaders, “Here are some tablets, here is what we need you to do, go out and get some patient comments.”

Understanding the Heart and the Why

As a nurse for 30 years, I know clinical leaders have a lot on their plates with many competing priorities. So, my team and I spent quite a bit of time with nurse leaders to understand their work, to help them understand the value of mobile rounding for them, their teams and their patients, and to find ways we could work together to make this approach as valuable as possible.

I place a premium on building staff engagement at every level in all our experience improvement initiatives. Creating sustainable change requires reaching across department lines and cultivating trusted relationships. Inspiring others means leading by example, connecting people back to purpose, and always putting patients at the center of everything we do. Influencing a new behavior requires understanding the context of a nurse leader’s life to best support them, and do it in a way that respects their professionalism and workflow. So, we started with the heart and started with the “why.” We asked our nurses simple, but powerful questions:

  • “Why did you choose this profession?”
  • “Why are you here?”
  • “Why do you engage with patients and families?”

When you open up meaningful dialogue, you get to the heart of leaders and caregivers.

Intersecting purpose and passion with vocation and skill is where positive change happens.

After getting to the heart of the matter, my team and I explain why a new technology or workflow is being considered, its potential impact on patient, family and staff experience, and then we paint a vision of transformation.

Backing Experience with Science

Because we strive to put science behind experience, our strategies are backed by measurable results.

Using the analytics feature in the mobile rounding solution, our patient experience team looked at the data and discovered we had an issue with food service. We explored patient, family and staff comments that were captured in the rounding application, and raised the issue to the chief operating officer.

Because we had actionable data, we were able to influence improvement measures and replace the food service vendor. This experience showed our nurse leaders that the technology was a valuable platform to have their collective voices heard and initiate positive change.

Pro-actively listening to patients, families, nurses, physicians and other members of the care team and infusing their voices into innovation design and technology decisions has helped shape successful experience strategies for the hospital. It all starts with the heart and a simply question – why?

The views and opinions expressed in this blog or by commenters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HIMSS or its affiliates.

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