Healthcare is a hot topic – who gets it, who pays for it, who insures it. Oftentimes, though, there’s something lost in the discussion and that’s who provides our healthcare. Specifically, who are the people employed to care for others and what are the challenges they face?
In some ways, these questions, and their answers, are the most fundamental to hospital and patient outcomes. It’s these doctors, nurses, administrators and support staff who are key to the quality of our entire healthcare system.
This point was driven home at a recent discussion I moderated for the U.S. News Healthcare of Tomorrow Conference. Experts from across the healthcare spectrum dug into the different aspects of why employee’s quality of life is so crucial and how we can work together to improve it.
Joining me were Richard Tam, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of Mackenzie Health, Dr. Marla Weston, CEO of the American Nurses Association, Dr. Soeren Mattke, Senior Scientist & Managing Director of RAND Health Advisory Services and Gary Earl, former Vice President of Employee Wellbeing at Cigna. Yes, a blockbuster panel.
Future blogs will cover their insights in depth. For now, I’d like to share my key takeaways of a conversation that I believe can elevate the broader public discussion on healthcare.
- Technology has transformed healthcare for the better in countless ways. But it has also increased the administrative demands on doctors, nurses and administrators. One of the most frequently voiced complaints is that non-clinical tasks consume too much time. Providing on-site integrated support in this area can save stress and free up care providers to spend more time on what they do best – care for patients.
- The physical and emotional demands of providing care take a serious toll. Nurses, for instance, report higher levels of stress, are more likely to be overweight and get less than the recommended hours of sleep. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses have one of the highest rates of occupational injuries and illnesses. Wellness initiatives like ANA’s “Healthy Nurse | Healthy Nation” can go a long way to helping caregivers take care of themselves.
- Understanding and addressing community challenges are critical to hospital outcomes. Endemic issues like access to healthy food and safe exercise options are not outside the realm of healthcare. In fact, there is a huge opportunity to spread wellness in communities and improve the quality of life for patients and employees before they reach the hospital door.
In partnership with healthcare leaders, we at Sodexo are focused on working to expand the notion of care and to include wellness in staff and communities. Together, as we recognize the broader challenges, we can continue to design and provide earlier interventions and more comprehensive solutions.
Stay tuned for more about this in weeks ahead and please add your thoughts on how we can expand our concept of healthcare.