Healthcare is on a Data-Driven Improvement Journey. But Who Will Lead the Change?

A healthcare leader mentors a new nurse

All organizations today are embarking on a data-driven improvement journey. Some are already more deeply engaged than others, but collectively we are just beginning to scratch the surface of what we can become with the use of data-backed solutions, predictive systems, and artificial intelligence-driven automation. There is no end point in sight, as data-driven enterprises will continuously evolve and reinvent the world of work. This is an exciting time, but it begs the question: Who will lead the change?

I’ve been giving this question a lot of thought, especially as it relates to the healthcare sector and the competencies our leaders must prioritize to unlock new data techniques and embrace disruptive innovation. It became clear, after discussing with two of my distinguished co-collaborators on the UKG Chief Nurse Executive Advisory Board—Dr. Karen Grimley and Dr. Betty Jo Rocchio—that if there is one quality leadership must prove, it is a well-articulated vision for naturally embedding data into every decision and process.

But bringing this vision to life demands an abundance of creativity, radical collaboration, and committing to an effective change management strategy that centers leadership mentoring—a concept I delve deep into in the current issue of my bi-annual industry brief.

“It’s our job as leaders to collectively coach our staff and build a tradition of excellence within our organizations,” said Dr. Rocchio, chief nursing officer at Mercy. “We are developing the workforce to be strong when we move on. That’s the goal.”

Mentorship provides a pathway to coach and develop staff to be who we need them to be—now and into the future.

Employees today are looking for connection and purpose at work. And from the very minute a candidate first engages your organization, you have an opportunity to bring them in and guide them toward a long, enriching career.

At Mercy, the team is looking at practice fit and culture fit to determine where people belong and where they’ll thrive. They’re leveraging data and science and provide coaching and shadowing to help find the best fit regionally for every new hire and every employee.

“Our approach to mentorship is less about learning nursing tasks. We view it as an opportunity to develop nurses to become a stabilizing factor across our organization,” said Dr. Rocchio.

This is what mentorship looks like when governed by a ministry-wide vision and strategy to help all employees find the right practice and the right culture fit inside an organization.

But for the most part, the programs we have in place in healthcare today aren’t enough. We need more mentorship opportunities at all levels of healthcare and throughout the employee lifecycle; the call to expand mentorship and increase opportunities for mid-careerists and emerging leaders is dire and driven by urgency to refortify the nation’s healthcare workforce.

Future leaders need exposure, not just to knowledge, but also to the ways in which present leadership thinks—a transfer of history that is so personal and unique that they wouldn’t get it any other way. When mentorship is lacking, you start to see your nurses limited by exposure. Without access to the networks and relationships they are looking to build—or without the time or resources needed to build and maintain those networks—staff motivation dwindles and career development stalls.

We’re calling on today’s leaders to develop future leaders capable of driving forward healthcare’s data-driven improvement journey.

The use of AI in nursing practice is in its infancy, but every step forward strengthens nurses’ capacity to provide multifaceted care and empowers staff to do more with less.

“The complexities of patient care require us to take all of our data points and blend our information (quality, experience, and cost) into a comprehensive, value-based, human experience for both patient and nurse,” said Dr. Grimley, chief nursing executive for UCLA Health.

Digital transformation is at the heart of the matter; the right systems and supports are required to unleash the power of your healthcare data and generate value for your business. We need more leaders who are particularly adept at change management and implementation science to consider how every piece of data can be regularly leveraged as part of an organization’s value equation. But that can’t happen without first creating the conditions to foster learning and the exchange of information and perspectives.

In developing your staff, remember that relationship building is equally important to skill building. As an industry, we need to get better at prioritizing connection and collaboration, at building bridges across the continuum, and providing support at all levels of an organization, especially the frontline.

For more insights, read the Fall 2022 issue of the Leading Healthcare Brief. Many thanks to Dr. Karen Grimley, PhD, MBA, RN, FACHE, NEA-BC, Chief Nursing Executive for UCLA Health and Assistant Dean in the UCLA School of Nursing, and Dr. Betty Jo Rocchio, DNP, RN, CRNA, CENP, EBP-C, Senior Vice President & System Chief Nursing Officer at Mercy, for making time to share their viewpoints and practical strategies.

Learn more about the clinical expertise within UKG and how that expertise helps advance technology and meaningful work experiences in healthcare.