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Here Are the Skills Healthcare Organizations Need to Handle Their Highly Regulatory Environments

David Gedeon

Vice President, Healthcare Vertical at Cornerstone OnDemand

For healthcare organizations and professionals, reducing risk and meeting compliance is more than a concern—it’s a challenge. Regulations in the medical field are constantly changing, making it difficult for organizations to forecast their future and implement development strategies to meet new goals. In fact, 70% of healthcare HR executives agree that regulations dictate operations.

To effectively handle mounting regulatory pressures, organizations must pursue talent management initiatives that will prepare their workforce to handle these changes. When equipped with soft skills like communication, stress management and emotional intelligence, healthcare employees not only increase their organization’s operational efficiency, they also develop the ability to thrive in an ever-evolving work environment.

Better Communication Protects Against Non-Compliance

Strong communication skills are crucial for establishing meaningful, trusting relationships with patients and cooperative, respectful relationships among members of a medical team. This is especially true as new technology emerges: Hip replacements and knee surgeries don’t look the same as they once did—they are faster, less intensive and more automated than ever before. Doctors and other healthcare professionals need to be able to clearly discuss and share knowledge about such advancements. Doing so will lead to fewer misunderstandings and mistakes when organizations integrate these technologies, making compliance easier, too.

And with virtual consultations becoming more commonplace, the way physicians communicate with their patients must change as well. If a patient misinterprets a physician’s advice, the interaction could result in a compliance catastrophe. Lessons on non-verbal and verbal communication skills for online consultations can help prepare doctors and healthcare professionals for a world in which they are regularly connecting with patients through a screen.

Maintaining Compliance Through Stress Management

In the healthcare industry, emergencies are an everyday occurrence, which is why it’s especially important that teams can properly manage stressful situations. Those without the ability to cope—or resources to help them do so—put themselves, coworkers, patients and their organization at risk. Studies have shown that as the levels of emotional exhaustion among physicians and nurses in intensive care units rose, so, too, did patient mortality rates. Similarly, higher burnout levels were linked to an increase in patient infections as well as the likelihood of being involved in a malpractice suit.

This is why it’s essential that organizations prioritize stress management practices. But healthcare leaders can’t just talk the talk. Managers must model and encourage these behaviors, even in small ways, like taking time to disconnect or engaging in mono-tasking, when possible, for better focus. Emphasizing these skills will ultimately lead to improved employee health as well as patient outcomes—and will better prepare professionals to tackle difficult situations while remaining calm and composed.

Emotional Intelligence Allows for More Effective Care

For tasks that involve critical thinking and problem-solving, emotional intelligence is key. Especially in times of crisis, healthcare professionals need to think clearly and act calmly to effectively address and resolve a situation.

When emotional intelligence (EI) is present, an individual can better recognize and understand feelings (both their own and others’) and adapt their behaviors accordingly. A surgeon who makes a rude, dismissive comment or rash decision in the heat of the moment, for instance, risks alienating colleagues, damaging doctor-patient relationships and, worst of all, making a critical error. Meanwhile, healthcare professionals with greater EI can remain calm when emotions are running high and be more empathetic when communicating with both team members and patients. Any instructions or advice they deliver will be clearer, resulting in fewer misunderstandings and mistakes.

By building greater self-awareness, which starts with simply acknowledging one’s feelings and triggers, healthcare workers can choose how best to respond rather than be ruled by impulse. The result? A higher quality of care, more trusting patients and improved collaboration and communication among teams who are driving toward common goals like patient satisfaction and compliance.

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