Women are the navigators for the health of their families and of their communities. Women play a critical role in shaping personalized plans to optimize the health and wellbeing of their families. (There is most likely a women behind every PSA ordered in this country!) Because women are the care givers in their families, they understand that the absence of navigators or a “Sherpa” is one of the fundamental components missing in health care today and is what contributes to a broken and fragmented delivery of care.
True innovation solves for the human experience and can only happen when the focus is on what matters most to patients and families and not on who gets credit or promoted. Women approach issues with a collaborative spirit and tend to have less ego in the room. Today a woman colleague, the CEO of a top hospital in the country, shared with me a story about an amazing innovation in the design of a patient and family parking garage. She said this outcome would not have occurred had it not been for the collaborative approach of the woman that led the team.
Women have a keen intuition about the health of their families. Wise pediatricians know to listen to the mother and trust what they know and to ask them what they think is wrong with their child. In the work setting, women tap into this skill and can rapidly identify root causes. This can help organizations innovate more effectively around the human experience of care.
Driving true change in the healthcare experience is lonely work! Women are hardwired to positively adapt and cope with stressful situations given the role they play in their families. One must have tenacity and perseverance to drive change and innovation in the patient and family experience. It is often lonely work, undervalued, considered less important and less a priority than a focus on cost reduction and quality. It will take resilient leaders to demonstrate that innovation on the human experience will ultimately improve cost and clinical outcomes in this country.
Human capacity for empathy is the key to innovation in healthcare. Women do no hold all the cards for empathy, but they have the ability to walk in the shoes of patients and families and understand the role in get play in understanding the gaps in the human experience of care. Great opportunities for innovation can be identified through the power of empathy.