In 1918, President Woodrow Wilson addressed his nation, the ongoing war, and the entire world—from a typewriter. At his desk in the White House, he personally drafted the Fourteen Points, world peace principles he hoped would honestly and openly negotiate a treaty and end World War I.
Unfortunately, the Fourteen Points didn’t end the war, which continued to rage on for nearly a year. But this concept of direct communication—of stripping down hierarchical layers in the hopes of getting more directly and transparently to the root of a deep-seeded problem—is relevant for those of us who are on the front lines of the effort to unbreak healthcare.
We’ve long sought to help piece together the many broken pieces of healthcare into a system that works for the care continuum. But before we can truly fix healthcare, we must first address the pain points of those individuals on the front lines, struggling to deliver healthcare in a broken environment. This is the true nature of #WhereIWork—above and beyond all the benefits that a positive culture can offer—my ideal workplace is one that helps to make physicians’ workplaces ideal.
We need to help physicians do what they do best, and in the process, to feel engaged with their work. My ideal workplace doesn’t just remove all the ‘junk’ that interferes with the perfect moment of care; it also invests in research on why physicians are unengaged with leadership, then pushes to reverse that trend. It studies the dissatisfied and overworked and micro-managed refugees of modern medicine so that their leaders can give them what they need to persevere—joyfully.
My ideal workplace is an open, collaborative environment that inspires our people to be engaged in creating solutions, which then fosters engagement within the communities with which we work. Trust begets trust; engagement begets engagement. It’s an intentionally designed cycle that ultimately leads to the type of high performance that’s quite capable of fixing what’s broken.
If you’re unsure just how important trust in leadership and engagement are to an organization’s potential for that level of high performance, take a look at the results of athenahealth’s 2016 Physician Leadership and Engagement Index, a national survey of physicians conducted by our own research team. The data is both troubling and encouraging. Troubling, because it shows that engagement levels for physicians are strikingly low—20 percent, according to our methodology. Encouraging, because the survey also reveals some tangible, actionable ideas for how to better connect physicians to their institutions, making them more likely to go above and beyond in their jobs.
Woodrow Wilson was onto something. In our own organization, and within those we serve, direct and transparent communication is critical to building trust and keeping everyone engaged in collectively meeting the end goal. My end goal is to unbreak healthcare. What’s yours? And how is your workplace supporting that goal? What do you need to change to get to your ideal workplace?