Leadership
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“The Needs of the Patient Come First” (03:49)

“The needs of the patient come first” is a Mayo Clinic refrain, according to Eddie Greene, Director of Diversity in Education. Is there an opportunity to grow that patient-centered approach to leadership at other organizations? University of Utah Health Care CEO Vivian Lee and MetroHealth System CEO Akram Boutros weigh in.

“We can’t be a great medical center if our patients don’t think we’re great.” In response to these words from Lee’s predecessor, University of Utah began its patient satisfaction surveys in 2008. “What was really important was the questions that we asked our patients, which were about respect, about communication, about engagement in the decision-making process,” says Lee. She notes that initially, patient feedback was provided to physicians privately so that they could distill and determine how to respond to it themselves. “I really believe that set us on the journey to being a patient-centered organization,” Lee explains. “Because the questions that we asked were questions that our physicians helped us choose, and they weren’t about the food, they weren’t about things that the physicians couldn’t control. They were really about that relationship.”

“Physicians got onto this positive reinforcement situation where it just felt good to read good things about you from your patients, [and] the whole mindset of the organization just became so much more patient centered,” she adds.  “And I think that’s the first step to this transformation.”

“Physicians have an undue burden they place upon themselves, which is that they feel like they are the captain of the ship, they’re in charge of everything. We teach medical students: don’t trust anything unless you did it yourself,” says Boutros.

To lessen this burden at MetroHealth, they decided “to create the camaraderie that we talked about.” This started with the implementation of TeamSTEPPS, from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, in a couple areas of the organization. The pilot worked well, according to Boutros, in providing psychological safety. “Within 11 months, we decided to become a training site,” he says. “And now, 3,600 or 3,700 of our 7,000 employees are trained in TeamSTEPPS. It’s organization wide, everyone supports each other knowing that the patient is at the center, and if I watch you fail, that’s as much my fault as it is yours.”

From the NEJM Catalyst event Leadership: Translating Challenge to Success at Mayo Clinic, June 2, 2016.

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