5 Steps to Boost a Culture of Accountability

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Hospitals are made up of mission-driven professionals dedicated to improving patient outcomes.  Leaders are regularly choosing between endless priorities to optimize clinical and executive operations, while healthcare workers constantly strive to provide quality and efficient care.  However, in fast-paced, enterprise organizations, communication around how these groups can best align to achieve commons goals, is often lost. With so many important factors at stake, creating a culture of open communication and shared accountability from the top down, offers all stakeholders a sense of personal and institutional responsibility to work together and continuously improve.

Accountability boosts hand hygiene:

Accountability is particularly important when adopting a new technology such as electronic hand hygiene monitoring.  Behavior modification is shaping up to be one of the most important ways to address hand hygiene compliance, but health systems are struggling to overcome resistance to change. In order to emphasize the importance for positive, lasting change, hospitals are turning to electronic monitoring systems to collect accurate and frequent compliance data.  Requiring healthcare workers to transition from manual, pen and paper observation, to an automated technology solution is a perfect example where expectations and objectives should be clearly defined.  Developing and executing on a well-defined implementation strategy is an effective way to establish clear goals, generate awareness, and create accountability for the stakeholders involved.  

Here are five basic steps to jumpstart a culture of accountability in conjunction with an implementation process for electronic hand hygiene monitoring:  

  1. Identify internal champions:  Designating leaders on both executive and clinical teams demonstrates organizational commitment to a mission.  Champions serve as resources to bridge questions, offer tips and best practices, as well as collect feedback on how a new program is working in accordance with the goals.  These leaders are also responsible for holding all stakeholders accountable for their role in helping drive the desired outcome.

  2. Create awareness: Taking the time to formally introduce a new vendor or product before its installed creates a sense of trust and awareness.  Often times, decision makers invest in innovative tools for clinical use, but when the hardware arrive in hospitals, users are not aware or prepared on how to use them. This is where internal champions can set aside time for questions and demonstrations, helping to alleviate fear of needing to learn something new in an already busy environment. In fact, professionals who have experienced positive technology implementations are more likely to consider the benefits of adopting new practices versus the possible difficulties or shortcomings.  For electronic hand hygiene monitoring, it’s important to educate users about everything from how to properly wear a badge to how the data is collected and used.  

  3. Establish clear expectations: Clearly defined benchmarks, objectives, and individual expectations are a must in creating and enforcing accountability.  While hand hygiene is one of the most obvious and important duties in healthcare, compliance rates are not always where they should be for optimal patient safety. Manual observation has mislead organizations to believe that rates are 90%+, but automated tracked reveals percentages closer to 30-40%. Setting an expectation that electronic monitoring is a systematic and effective way to set benchmarks for improvement, and not to punish individual employees, enforces an organizational philosophy to improve overall quality and safety.  

  4. Build Transparency: Facilities that share hand hygiene data in an open and transparent format, initiate accountability and trust.  Providing transparent insight about individual and collective progress shows that there is nothing to hide. If everyone is held accountable for their actions, users feel more confident in their ability to perform, and less nervous about what the data say on the back end.

All of my unit managers regularly post hand hygiene data from best to worst. Even if you’re a bottom performer, nurses understand it’s not to shame them, but to help them get better. People are not walking away feeling defeated; they are walking away finding ways to improve their own performance.
— Jamie Swift, Ballad Health, Corporate Director Infection Prevention
Chief Nursing Officer in a facility with SwipeSense developed a race track board to track hand hygiene compliance and improvement. The team references the board in their morning huddles.

Chief Nursing Officer in a facility with SwipeSense developed a race track board to track hand hygiene compliance and improvement. The team references the board in their morning huddles.

5. Make hand hygiene, fun: Finding creative ways to boost compliance is gaining momentum across facilities.  Organizations are developing fun campaigns with mascots, trophies and rewards for top performers.  This may seem like common sense, but in fact, celebrations are often overlooked in busy workplaces.  Setting goals and recognizing success encourages friendly competition, pushing staff to take ownership of their own performance and the people around them.  

Hospitals with SwipeSense create fun ways to promote better hand hygiene.

Hospitals with SwipeSense create fun ways to promote better hand hygiene.

 

By leveraging hand hygiene data, learn more about how leading hospitals have created a culture of accountability, ultimately transforming the perception for how technology can drive operational, culture, and clinical change.