There is no one type of “smart.” The adjective changes meaning based on its context, and even then there can be different kinds of smart. Street smart, book smart, financially smart. Healthcare is no exception: clinically smart, strategically smart, managerially smart. If you work in healthcare, there’s always room to grow and learn and progress, no matter what types of smarts you have.
Here are 10 of the smartest things people in healthcare do.
Invest in data analytics. Data is foundational for progress and innovation. If there is no record of the way things were or are, innovators can’t begin to understand how to move forward.
Refine skill sets and non-clinical acumen. In recent years, physicians have increasingly expanded their knowledge bases beyond lectures at medical school and experiences in residency. Physician leaders are enrolling in new programs and classes to gain a broader base of knowledge outside the clinical realm.
Volunteer to be involved in strategic initiatives. Stepping up in times of need not only demonstrates commitment to an organization, but it also allows — or forces — individuals to gain new skills. Such strategic initiatives may include implementing health IT projects, assessing current and future needs, developing physician-integration plans or spearheading population health projects.
Join professional organizations. Being smart relative to a particular industry is contingent upon a commitment to lifelong learning. Healthcare is constantly changing. Educational institutions and personal mentors may not always be able to keep up with the evolving landscape, but professional organizations offer a forum for members to discuss and debate the ideas and challenges they face.
Embody a team-based approach. Administrative differences are only going to become barriers to progress in the healthcare industry. Not only can all stakeholders in healthcare stand to learn from one another, but a team approach ensures any issues are addressed thoroughly and comprehensively.
Be uncompromisingly obsessive about waste. This is a crucial characteristic for any professional success in healthcare. Every time we have waste in the health system, it results in a worse experience for everybody; worse quality and safety and higher costs. If we really want to be compassionate and patient-centric, a major part of that is being considerate about how much this is going to cost the patient, the employers, the community and the taxpayers who are picking up the rest of the tab.
Treat patients like the people they are. Healthcare is riddled with data. Patient data, structured and unstructured EMR data, financial data, population health data. Even diagnostic and reimbursement codes are a series of numbers and letters, a quantitative approach to a qualitative experience. But healthcare is about caring for people, not caring for ICD-9 codes, and that means taking into consideration the parts of life that happen outside of hospital walls.
Commit to be fit. Before a plane takes off, flight attendants go through their safety demonstration. In the event of a pressure change in the cabin, yellow oxygen masks descend from the ceiling. “Be sure to affix your own mask before assisting others,” flight attendants advise. To effectively help others, you first have to help yourself.
Get a flu shot. In a similar vein to leading by example, flu shots are indisputably one of the most effective infection prevention tools in healthcare today. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than 200,000 people will be hospitalized for flu-related complications every year. Children younger than 2 and adults over 65 have higher susceptibility to the flu, and death becomes a higher risk when such patients are already immuno-compromised in the hospital. The CDC recommends all healthcare professionals receive a yearly flu shot to protect both themselves and their patients.
Do humanitarian work to revitalize your foundation. When working in multi-billion dollar academic medical centers or running huge nonprofit and for-profit organizations, the foundation of healthcare can get lost in the shuffle of accreditation surveys, reimbursement changes, physician-integration discussions and provider competition. While all of these processes are important or necessary to running an organization, what is equally important is for individuals to remember why they want to be in healthcare in the first place.