by Tim Travis

There are plenty of distractions for health care leaders and clinicians these days. Uncertainty around legislation, budget cuts, the impact of technology that is driving competition from non-traditional market players, and more.

At the same time, health care organizations continue to face historic challenges—finding and retaining top talent, ensuring high quality outcomes, achieving a sufficient ROI to support facility improvements and equipment purchases—you could surely add to the list.

But despite all the craziness and ambiguity, one constant remains: the need to ensure a focus on a positive patient experience. After all, patients are as much—if not more—impacted by the uncertain healthcare environment as health care providers are.

Certainly, it’s easy to become distracted by the events of the day; the news media makes sure of that. But, here’s some information that may surprise you and help you think differently about the issues impacting you.

Aamer Mumtaz; Alan London, MD; and David Fairchild, MD, with BDC Advisors, a business management consultancy, have been having ongoing discussions with health care CEOs and chief strategy officers for the past several years. In an article for Leadership+ they recently revealed the issues most impacting the health care industry today. Their findings: “Most believe that the healthcare market has many of the same characteristics and challenges as it did in 2011.” Among the issues they identified:

  • Continued search for value through clinical integration, care coordination and high-quality care
  • The importance of scale to drive down per unit costs of care
  • The role of commercial insurance as the main “engine of growth for providers”—with Medicare Advantage remaining the most attractive government program from a financial standpoint
  • Medicaid and the ACA were, and remain, wild cards
  • A quest for quality care despite potential loss of government support for innovation
  • Continued importance of speed to market for new initiatives
  • Increasing cost reduction and asset redeployed in an increasingly tight financial environment

It’s easy to get caught up in the hue and cry of “massive changes” in the health care environment and certainly we face some massive changes. But, as BCDs research shows, we have been facing massive changes for quite some time now—and the impact is likely to continue.

Consequently, it’s important to work hard to gain perspective and to avoid a “the sky is falling” mentality. Our patients and the people who provide their care rely on us to do just that. In fact, studies have consistently shown that health care providers—and, specifically, nurses—are among the most trusted professionals among consumers.

An annual Gallup poll, most recently conducted in December 2016, showed nurses at the top of the list with a trust rating of 84 percent, followed by pharmacists (at 67 percent) and medical doctors (at 65 percent). To put this in perspective, college teachers were rated at 44 percent, business executives at 17 percent and, not surprisingly, members of Congress at the bottom of the pack, at 8 percent (car salespeople were at 9 percent).

The moral of the story—your patients, their family members and the communities you serve are counting on you to continue navigating the stormy waters of health care service delivery amid continuing impacts that show no signs of abating. They look to you to provide a singular focus on meeting their needs.

They trust you. That’s a good position to hold, and a good launch-pad for doubling down on the patient experience.