Webinar Series Provides Guidance for Managing Operational Challenges

Added on Mar 26, 2020

By Adam Higman


As health care organizations work tirelessly to prepare for and respond to COVID-19, structures, systems, and processes are being put to the test. With systems under such stress, high reliability principles are more important than ever to ensure consistent delivery of safe, high-quality, patient-centered care. Our clinical improvement team continues to work with clients to provide support.

Because many of the questions we are hearing from partner organizations are universally relevant, we have developed an on-demand webinar series to share advice and insights with the broader client community. The first three webinars in the series address the most pressing operational questions that health systems are facing right now: effective communications, staffing strategies, and capacity building.

Effective Crisis Communication to Keep Patients and Staff Safe

During periods of crisis, the volume of information coming at us by the hour grows exponentially. This contributes to collective anxiety and makes it more difficult to determine the appropriate response. To optimize information exchange and minimize stress and confusion, organizations must emphasize key high reliability communication skills and practices. Leaders should stress the importance of daily check-ins and huddle processes, situational awareness, leader rounding, and message simplification. Cultivating and reinforcing these practices ensures that caregivers have up-to-date information and are doing their best to protect themselves and their patients. Watch the webinar, "Applying High Reliability Operating Principles in Crisis Situations" here

Staffing Allocation Considerations to Meet Evolving Needs

In the staffing space, organizations are trying to determine the best way to allocate staff to ensure coverage where it is needed. In many parts of the country, elective surgeries are being canceled, ambulatory clinic visits are being moved to virtual visits, and ED and urgent care workflows are being redesigned. This creates significant staffing challenges, including the need to centrally determine staff schedules, skill sets, and availability, as well as the need to verify that clinical skills meet applicable standards for staff assigned to new areas. One example of how organizations can couple staffing considerations with their emergency management plans can be seen in the memo below from one of our partner organizations in Washington state.

emergency memo

Watch the webinar, "Staffing Strategies in High-Demand and Emergent Situations" here.

Capacity Considerations for Emergency and Primary Care Operations

Related to capacity, organizations are pressure-testing their surge plans and evaluating their ability to efficiently triage patients and create more critical care capabilities. Some key best practices can help ensure that leaders are being sensitive to their operational needs and capabilities. These include case management skills, deployment of modified multidisciplinary rounding models, and development of new discharge strategies. It is also essential that we recognize that capacity runs across the continuum and managing the visibility of ambulatory operations is essential. To this end, organizations are developing telehealth and drive-through primary care and urgent care capabilities by repurposing specialty clinics and staff. Reimbursement and HIPAA requirements are being loosened to support these efforts. Watch the webinar, "Creating Ambulatory Capacity During Emergent Situations" here and part II, "Creating Inpatient Capacity in Inpatient Situations" here.  

In addition to the three webinars noted above, others are being developed to address the evolving demands on operations resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, such as engaging patients in isolation and managing employee burnout.

 Visit our dedicated COVID-19 webpage for additional resources.