Workplace Efficiency: Tools and Resources Every Healthcare Professional Needs

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Workplace efficiency in the healthcare space is becoming increasingly crucial. Limited resources mean that those resources must be spared as much as possible. And one of those resources is the human beings who populate the healthcare space.

The global population is aging, with the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) projecting that 27% of the world’s people will be over 65 by 2030. By that time, 10% of us will be over 80, putting even more pressure on already taxed systems. Let’s look at workplace efficiency for healthcare professionals and how we can use the tools and resources patients rely on more effectively to safeguard healthcare for the future.

The Four Domains of Performance

BMC Health Services Research performed a systematic review of job performance in healthcare to identify gaps in its delivery related to performance. The goal of researchers was to get ahead of the challenges of an aging population. Greater efficiencies mean spared resources. Identifying ways and means of achieving those enhanced efficiencies was the review’s aim.

The review focused on the four standard domains of assessing job performance:

    • Task Performance: Tasks specific to the job, including knowledge of requirements and skills directly applicable.
    • Contextual Performance: Soft skills and behaviors applying to the job but not set out specifically.
    • Adaptive Performance: Ability to conform to a changing work environment, job roles, and systems.
    • Counterproductive Performance: Disruptive or harmful behaviors that detract from the well-being of all stakeholders, especially patients.

Researchers contended that only task and contextual performance are adequately covered in most of the texts reviewed. However adaptive performance is even more important in rapidly shifting environments like healthcare. And it must be accepted that counterproductive performance has a deleterious effect on all concerned, including patients. These two areas need further study and examination to ensure that they’re centered on creating greater efficiencies.

Comfort: An Adaptation for Enhanced Efficiency

There’s no question that healthcare is called on to turn on a dime, every day. The need to pivot to address shifting circumstances goes with the territory.

On the institutional level, new technologies are changing the game. These technologies will, to an extent,  reduce pressure on healthcare professionals. With the rise of telemedicine, patients are being increasingly empowered to find more convenient, cost-effective solutions to health challenges, further reducing pressure.

But how are individual healthcare professionals dealing with public demand? The pandemic took a tremendous toll on healthcare workers with many exhausted nurses and other professionals choosing to retire, leaving fewer to serve the public.

Comfort = Adaptation for Efficiency

Group of medical surgeons wearing hospital scrubs in operating theatre. Portrait of successful medical workers in surgical uniform in operation theater, ready for next operation.

Photo by Getty Images on Unsplash

Part of the professional response to pressure on the sector has been to embrace contemporary innovations in uniforms. New fabric technologies, including scrub tops and pants that move with the wearer, have helped increase the comfort of these hardworking professionals. But a renewed interest in serving the feet of healthcare professionals – who do a lot of heavy lifting – is another game changer. Items like bamboo socks and barefoot socks have brought many healthcare workers enhanced comfort on the job, contributing to greater efficiencies.

By understanding their own need for comfort and adapting accordingly, healthcare professionals are armed for daily battle, adapting their armor to more fully allow them to perform their duties efficiently. Many healthcare professionals now even carry efficient functional handbags to accommodate longer shifts, bringing with them all they need to be at their high-performing best.

Team-Based Adaptive Performance Monitoring

Healthcare professionals working in teams are uniquely placed to institutionalize a model of monitoring adaptive performance to more reliably integrate it as an overall measure of job performance.

This study (which is not specific to healthcare but instructive in this question) points out that people working in teams hold a key to measuring adaptive performance. Teams must move as one, understanding the project at hand and acting as a unit to address it.

Team-based measurement of adaptive performance is broadly applied and arm’s length, with specific measures still to be developed. However, the team creates renewed efficiencies to spare and optimally deploy resources for the health of the whole healthcare organism.

Individual competencies are currently measured, but a broader approach must be taken in healthcare. The team is an operational unit, accomplishing the magic of people allied to complete a project. And so, it becomes critical that team-based measures be applied to discover how teams adapt and respond to change. In addressing team-based adaptive performance, healthcare is mining a resource that has been left unexplored.

Addressing Counterproductive Performance

woman inside laboratory

Photo by Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash

In understanding the source of counterproductive performance and associated behaviors, its influence can be curtailed. And yet, very little research has been done in this regard. In 2016, a systematic review of counterproductive performance among nursing professionals was published in the Journal of Clinical Research and Bioethics, revealing the workplace circumstances that led nurses to engage in behaviors that might potentially impact patients.

Job demands, institutional cynicism and injustice, alienation from work, and moral disengagement were all pointed to, with all studies examined taking into account the perspectives of nursing professionals cited in the literature.

The review’s conclusion recommends the immediate containment of counterproductive performance, thus reducing the risk to patients. The conclusion also notes the urgency with which counterproductive behaviors must be addressed to limit the possibility of cultural contamination in the organization affected.

Researchers suggest that health managers consider their findings to reduce the risk factors involved with this performance domain and to fortify protective factors. Assessment starts in the context of the team, trickling up to superiors in the organization and resulting in tighter lid on behaviors that may endanger patients.

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