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    The first step to developing solutions is to identify the existing problems, and that is done by mapping out patient flow through a hospital stay or in an office visit. In addition, day-to-day issues are addressed through morning “huddles.”

    “Huddles are short, stand-up staff meetings that focus on specific problems that can interfere with the ability to deliver patient care. They allow everyone to know what immediate demands they might face so that they can develop contingency plans for that day and also initiate a plan as needed to quickly resolve the issue,” Dr. DeChant explained.

    Problems that cannot be resolved this way through the efforts of frontline personnel are brought to the attention of management and escalated up to whatever level is needed to achieve a timely resolution. Having these leaders spend time at the front lines of care is important because by seeing and understanding the challenges, they are more likely to respond quickly when their help is needed.

    In addition to becoming involved in developing solutions to problems, management’s role in creating a positive work environment requires that it clearly communicates the organization’s vision, mission, and values along with the metrics that are being used to measure success, and there must be feedback to individual frontline workers on their contributions.

    Read: How care process models can help your practice

    “With all of these efforts, we also create organizations that are effective and adaptable to dealing with whatever changes are happening in the external environment. Remember that Darwin said it is the species that is the most adaptable to change that survives, and that is what we need in health care organizations today.”

    Dr. DeChant discussed his personal experience to show that the approach he outlined works. He told attendees that in the 5 years he served as CEO for the Sutter Gould Medical Foundation in California, the medical group was ranked highest among 170 groups in the state by Consumer Reports for 2 consecutive years. In addition, results from American Medical Group Association surveys showed that over the 5 years of Dr. DeChant’s leadership, physician satisfaction rose from the 45th to the 87th percentile.

    “Other organizations following this program have done similarly because it is a process that can work when there is dedicated leadership and committed physicians willing to work together to implement a real plan,” Dr. DeChant said.

    “Everyone within an organization will do well if its members adopt an attitude of respect for each other and are empowered to solve their problems.”

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