Healthcare HHS Leadership Patient Flow

The Healthcare Problem That Needs Our Attention

A regular patient stay in the hospital can include countless healthcare professionals moving in and out of the patient’s room - from nurses and physicians to housekeepers and transporters. The involvement of such a large staff can pose a challenge for any healthcare team trying to create a genuine connection with a patient. As a result, many healthcare professionals are beginning to incorporate programs and training into their work to promote personalized, compassionate care, and to create an environment of familiarity, safety, and trust among staff and patients.   

Beth Lown, MD, Medical Director at the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, elaborates on this growing issue:

“Today, healthcare is so geared around volume, productivity, and margins, it makes the opportunity to form real connections between hospital staff and patients practically obsolete. This has caused an epidemic of professional burnout - emotional exhaustion, a sense of depersonalization, and low-efficacy with employees in the industry; and more importantly, it is slowly causing a depletion of compassion and empathy within healthcare.”

“If we lose our ability to provide compassion in healthcare, we will all suffer. As providers and staff become more removed from the compassionate care because of the overwhelming amount of burnout and burden with administrative duties, we will lose a sense of purpose within the field, and patients and families will not receive the care and empathy they deserve during their time of need.”

With these issues in mind, in October 2014, the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare and the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, in collaboration with the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation and the Bucksbaum Institute for Clinical Excellence at the University of Chicago, came together to discuss how to foster more compassionate collaboration among professionals within the healthcare industry. Through their collaboration and research they developed a Compassionate, Collaborative Care Model called the “Triple C Framework.” The framework was designed to help enhance the ability of healthcare professionals to partner with and support each other across departments, and to better connect with patients and families.

Some of the values and behaviors taught by the Triple C Framework include:

  • Recognizing verbal and nonverbal cues
  • Listening actively to concerns
  • Embracing diversity and uniqueness
  • Asking the right questions at the right time
  • Responding appropriately to questions and concerns
  • Engaging in informed, shared decision-making
  • Demonstrating trustworthiness
  • Collaborating as a team across departments
  • Practicing self-reflection and self-care to foster wellbeing
  • Building strong partnerships and teamwork

To access the full list, click here.

The Triple C Framework was developed to deepen the collective understanding of what constitutes compassion and empathy and how these behaviors can be interwoven into existing competencies. The overall values and behaviors of the framework are not add-ons, but essential enhancements for currently existing education on interpersonal communication skills, patient care, and other professional training.

Lown notes the potential positive impacts of the Triple C Framework and why compassion is essential across all healthcare departments and practices. “Everyone is a member of the healthcare team - patients, family members, clinicians, support staff, administrators, managers, and leaders alike. Putting compassion into action means it needs to be implemented throughout all teams, practices and departments and must be valued at the organizational level. By integrating compassion throughout the healthcare system, both the patients and the healthcare staff are able to create a more cohesive collaboration and understanding. This helps those who are in a healthcare profession get back to the real driving factor for why they went into the industry, which is providing compassionate care to individuals in their time of need.”

Lown shares a success story from one hospital that implemented the Triple C Framework interdepartmentally and how it enhanced the patients' experience of care, especially among the patient transportation management team.

“To make the patients feel comforted, an initiative one hospital started was pairing a transporter with a specific patient.  Any time that patient needed to be transported into radiology, another floor, or room, they would see the same familiar face - the same smile.  This helped build a sense of compassion and familiarity, which can be vital during someone’s stay in the hospital.  Even the transporters grew to feel more connected to the patients and went out of their way to make sure that if that patient ever returned to the hospital for another procedure, they were there to greet them.  This is just one small part to the grander scheme of what the Triple C encompasses,” shares Lown.

In order to encourage HHS team members towards incorporating the Triple C Framework better into their daily routine, HHS utilizes a performance improvement (PI) development tool that draws on insights from the framework. HHS’ Triple C PI helps managers give team members specific, constructive feedback regarding patient interactions on a regular basis.  These conversations about compassionate patient interaction often continue in daily huddles, where the entire team can share the things they say and do to convey and demonstrate care. This PI helps cultivate a mentor/mentee relationship between manager and team member and helps to create a compassionate team whose bonds are strengthened as team members support one another, sharing their challenges and successes.

As the healthcare industry paradigm shifts, due to new technology and protocols, it can become difficult for healthcare providers and support service staff to continue to provide a personalized approach to compassionate care. As members of an evolving industry, we must continually remember to step back and make time to reevaluate how everyone at our facilities—across all departments—can work better together to create a continuum of compassionate care.  

To learn more about how HHS is implementing the Triple C Framework with our team, contact us.

Beth Lown, MD, serves as the Medical Director at the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, a nonprofit dedicated to strengthening the relationships among patients, families, and clinicians and advancing compassionate healthcare. Throughout her four decades of professional clinical experience, Dr. Lown’s interest for empathy, compassion, collaboration, and relational and communication skills within the healthcare industry has deepened. She has implemented programs, curriculum, and research and speaks nationally and internationally about compassionate, collaborative care and how clinical providers can implement these skills. Dr. Lown is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA and serves as the Director of Faculty Development at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA.  

To find out more about the Schwartz Center’s Compassion in Action Healthcare Conference, click here.