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Improving the patient experience, patient health outcomes, and process efficiency — also known as the Triple Aim — may have a name change coming in the future. That is if the focus is expanded from solely improving patients’ well-being, to also improving the well-being of those who care for these patients.

The Quadruple Aim would include medical and healthcare support staff, showing an interest in advancing their overall experience, too.

The Triple Aim is a top focus among caretakers, including doctors, nurses, and other segments of the healthcare workforce, but it is no secret that there is universal burnout among employees who pour themselves into taking care of others.

This dynamic leads to decreased patient satisfaction, which can lower the outcomes for their patients, and it potentially increases costs due to inadvertently making mistakes. Expanding from a Triple Aim to a Quadruple Aim would improve the mental and physical wellness of clinicians and support staff.

The Demand to Be Better & Do More

In today’s day and age, consumers expect more from providers and their practice. The delivery of care and the satisfaction of the patient is of utmost importance. Healthcare is just as much a customer service role as it is a life-saving and life-enhancing role.

Just as a person expects to receive quality service at a restaurant, and short hold times on their bank’s customer service hotline, they also expect to be seen in a timely fashion by a medical practitioner — one who shows concern, empathy, and are accessible for follow-ups and questions.

Patient-centered’ is a term that was coined years ago and became a popular catchphrase in the medical community. It embodies the high standards anticipated by patients, who are accustomed to this way of life in our ‘microwave society’ — give me what I want, and what I need, when I say so.

Paying the Ultimate Price

Healthcare practitioners throughout developed countries have reported, both on the record and anecdotally, that they feel stressed out at work. High levels of stress are linked to illness and missed shifts, an increase in healthcare costs, obesity, mistakes, a high staffing turnover, and poor judgments when making healthcare decisions.

Ask any randomized number of healthcare employees, and there is a considerably high chance they’ll share stories of feeling exhausted, underappreciated, understaffed, and overworked. Their demands for workload seem to only get steeper year after year, and the expectations from administration continue to rise as well.

Couple this hard-to-please patient population with a stressed out, burned out healthcare staff, and the reality isn’t pretty. The case for creating a Quadruple Aim is mounting.

The Hope for Whole-System Interventions

Knowing that this concern is a global epidemic, a systematic review was commissioned by the United Kingdom’s Department of Health to address the health and well-being of medical staff. They surveyed a large number of international workplaces, who are considered to be healthy. Their hope was to identify interventions in healthcare workplaces and decide if they improve their health and well-being, and promote happier staff.

During this process, the Boorman review collected input from staff to understand their needs and opinions on whole-system interventions. There were five system-level recommendations for healthcare businesses to level up their staff’s health and well-being. These improvement plans are supported by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence, as well as included in the NHS Health and Well-being Improvement framework. These points include:

  • Understanding (and response) to local staff needs
  • Understanding staff engagement (at all levels)
  • Strong visibility of leadership
  • Support for health and well-being at senior management levels
  • Management capability to improve staff health and well-being

This review pinpointed 11 studies which integrate at least one of the Boorman recommendations and substantiates that whole-system healthy workplace interventions can in fact increase health and well-being, and foster thriving lifestyles among healthcare staff.

Upon the conclusion of the assessment, all interventions were considered, on some level, partly effective. Two of the studies reported statistically significant improvement in physical health, and eight showed improvement in (subjective) mental health.

To learn actionable insights and examples on improving healthcare employees’ well-being, stay tuned to our next blog post coming up later this month.