Research related to RROHC: Google, Empathy, Relational Coordination

During our Professional Practice Specialist course telephone conferences, I normally begin with discussing research that’s pertinent to the participants and that applies to Relationship & Results Oriented Healthcare. In the conference this week, we discussed three studies that apply to the largely nurse leader/manager/director cohort.
1) Applying Google’s “virtuous cycle” of “attraction, community, engagement, and innovation” (from Laszlo Bock’s “Passion, not Perks”) to the culture of nursing engagment, Alexandra Pecci (for HealthLeaders Media 9/4/2012) cites a recent article about correlation with nurse’s engagement levels and the ability to spot potential medical errors. Linda Flynn, a Rutgers professor, was one of the principle investigators in the study published in the Journal of Nursing Scholarship. Empowerment and voice appears to correlated with nurses intercepting med errors, and lower medication error rates. And med errors result in longer stays and cost an estimated $4 million per hospital, not counting the human suffering involved. Supporting nurses in their workplace environments may seem so basic, but in times like these, less costly efforts to elevate professional practice, unit councils, and staff level problem solving, must be correlated with cost savings and improved care, so that nurse executives can make the business case for supporting nursing empowerment. How many nursing directors struggle to gain approval for staff meeting or unit council dollars?
2) Empathetic doctors keep diabetic patients out of the hospital! In an international study, published in September 2012 Academic Medicine, physicians with a higher empathy scale had patients with better control of A1c and cholesterol. 29 patients (of 7224) were admitted from the patient caseloads of more empathetic MDs, and 52 (of 6424) were admitted by those who had been scored as lower in human connection. Recommendations centered around better emotional intelligence training for resident physicians, while I would add that we are often training currently practicing physicians in their patient interactions.
I would like to see further studies that would correlate RNs,patient empathy perceptions, and their patient education and discharge instructions, and readmissions.
3) Relational Coordination: The AHA Center for Healthcare Governance asked Jody Hoffer Gittell, professor at Brandeis University, to discuss how relational coordination (Coordinating work thru relationships of shared goals, shared knowledge, and mutual respect) is a method for improved performance. This is just what we do in RROHC processes as the entire team (including the patient/family) understand the patient’s 4 Ps: Purpose, Picture, Plan, and Part). Dr. Gittell encouraged use of these relational coordination processes in healthcare for more seamless care. It’s great to know that further concepts and ideas are supporting what we have been recommending for decades!

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