“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it,” Albert Einstein discovered.
Only with new ways of thinking was he able to achieve his breakthrough understanding of how the physical universe works.
I’ve found the same to be true in delivering high quality health care.
To achieve breakthrough results, leaders and providers need new ways of thinking to overcome the negativity that permeates their professional life.
How negative has it become?
Forty-six percent of physicians report experiencing burnout.
Three out of four nurses working in hospitals say their stress level is so high that it’s affecting their physical and mental health. The consequences to patients are profound. Current estimates are that 15 million preventable medical errors occur every year, resulting in the death of 440,000 patients.
In 15 years of research in major academic medical settings I’ve found that helping health care providers create more positive mindsets improves their well-being. Learning new ways of thinking based on positive psychology — the science of optimal functioning — leads to behavior changes that significantly improve outcomes for staff and patients alike.
My recently released book, PROPEL to Quality Healthcare, describes how staff accomplished remarkable results:
Stepping up efforts to help coworkers reduced the number of staff reporting exhaustion from 37 percent to 6 percent.
Increasing job engagement from 3 percent to 87 percent subsequently improved patient satisfaction scores by 50 percent
Improving communication between staff members reduced patient falls by 90 percent.
Enhancing collaboration between leaders and staff in a chemotherapy clinic cut wait times from an average of eight hours to two hours.
Building better teamwork in an ER reduced diverting ambulances to more distant hospitals from an average of 186 hours to one hour per month.
These achievements all began by adopting new mindsets, which are the underlying beliefs that determine how people respond to challenges.
The PROPEL research reveals six essential mindset shifts:
P — Developing a Passion mindset shifts people from obsessing over problems and to harmonizing with people who can help find solutions. Advancing from trying to control others to collaborating with them involves aligning around a shared vision of how to achieve a specific goal.
R — Achieving an optimal Relationship mindset requires awareness that positive interactions with colleagues provide a crucial source of motivation for implementing solutions. High-functioning relationships require a minimum ratio of three positive exchanges for every negative encounter, with optimal closer to 5:1.
O — Having an Optimistic mindset allows people to avoid the pitfalls associated with blaming others for setbacks. Instead, teams learn to engage in productive conversations that explore many possibilities for improvements to positively impact the situation.
P — Shifting to a Proactive mindset rather than being reactive (read fight or flight) requires people to become highly aware of their strengths. Understanding when and how to deploy one’s best qualities is essential for successfully addressing challenging situations.
E — Creating an Energy mindset involves recognizing the signals that indicate the need to replenish energy rather than pushing past one’s limits and lapsing into burnout.
L — Maintaining a Legacy mindset focuses leaders on making a meaningful improvement in the lives of their staff, which is the best way to insure they make a positive impact on the lives of their patients.
PROPEL mindsets are like a six-cylinder engine driving performance. Each one must fire properly to achieve optimal functioning.