Over the last few years, the healthcare industry has experienced a seismic shift with the implementation of: new patient care-delivery models, value reimbursement practices, and accountability measures (i.e., safety, efficiency, quality, and equity) in an effort to improve the patient experience, improve the health of populations, and reduce costs. Having worked with numerous hospitals over the last several years, one thing is very clear: hospitals are by default, emotionally-charged environments. Hospital providers and staff must be able to: collaborate as a team, make sound clinical decisions in a timely manner, and adapt to stressful situations, in an emotionally-charged, complex environment. In order to achieve organizational success, hospital leadership must foster a culture of clinical expertise, service excellence, and high Emotional Intelligence (EQ).
What is EQ and how does it impact patient-care performance and the financial health of hospitals?
Dr. Floyd Loop said it best, “More than prescriptions, medicine involves communication, tolerance, flexibility, listening, hard work, and a passion for the practice,” (as cited in Fernandez, Peterson, Holmstrom, and Connolly, 2012).
Differentiated from IQ, EQ can be developed and is comprised of emotional and social skills that influence the way we: perceive and express ourselves, build and maintain relationships, manage stress, and make sound decisions. EQ impacts patient-care performance and ultimately the financial health of hospitals in many ways. Patient-care performance is directly linked to the quality of interactions between providers and patients, and the caliber of communication among providers, leaders, nurses, and staff. Success in the hospital environment is all about team, it is never a solitary enterprise. “Success requires staff who see the value of new procedures, and a culture of communication, collaboration, and adaptability,” (Warren, 2013). Hospital leadership should consider the role of EQ in patient satisfactions surveys, teamwork, transitions of care, risk reduction, organizational commitment, transparency, and openness to change. All of these, are directly tied to the financial health of hospitals, as a deficit in individual, team, and organizational EQ can cause hospitals to be financially penalized or patients to go to a competing hospital.
Some real-world examples of EQ skills in hospitals:
Empathy: The ability to relate to others feelings is directly tied to the quality of provider-patient interactions. This can affect patient satisfaction scores, compliance to treatment regimens, and patient outcomes. In addition, when team members collaborate from an empathetic perspective, team communication and morale is enhanced.
Assertiveness: The ability to communicate in a direct manner, with respect, allows team members to speak up when they observe an error committed by another team member. Assertiveness also fosters patient advocacy.
Stress Tolerance: Resilience in coping with stressful situations. Effective stress tolerance can prevent employee burnout/turnover and enhance decision making and team communication in stressful situations.
Flexibility: the ability to keep an open mind, adjusting thoughts, emotions, and behavior when presented with dynamic or unfamiliar situations. Flexibility is key in the midst of embracing organizational change, when learning new technical skills, and when implementing new policies, procedures, and protocols, etc.
Impulse Control: the ability to delay or resist an impulse to act. At its worst, underuse of impulse control can lead to angry outbursts that disrupt teamwork. Overuse can lead to overcontrol and the inability to make a timely decision, which may be a life or death decision.
There are many other EQ skills that impact patient-centered care and service excellence in the hospital, such as: problem-solving, emotional awareness, interpersonal relationships, emotional self-expression, social responsibility, independence, self-regard, self-actualization, reality testing, and optimism.
EQ Professional Development Implications:
These days, training centered solely on clinical expertise and service excellence is not adequate for hospitals to compete and win. The hospital environment is a complex, emotionally-charged environment and EQ training can help providers, staff, and leaders learn to improve their use of EQ skills that will enhance patient-centered care, boost employee engagement, reduce medical errors, reduce staff turnover, and increase teamwork and communication.
KMACC SOLUTIONS, LLC offers EQ assessments endorsed by the APA, individual coaching, and customized group training that focuses on EQ from a healthcare perspective. Assessments can be utilized for individual contributors, teams, or leaders.