For healthcare organizations, dealing with shortages is nothing new, whether it’s budgetary dollars or the availability of qualified workers. There is, however, one area in which healthcare consistently has a surplus: heroic individuals. And it’s not just the ones performing lifesaving surgeries (although that is certainly commendable). In fact, when we surveyed a group of leaders about who they believe are the unsung heroes in healthcare, some weren’t even employed by health systems.
Below, please find the thought-provoking responses to the question:
Who are the true unsung heroes in healthcare?
Tanya Townsend, Chief Information and Digital Officer at Stanford Children’s Health
Anyone in healthcare who remains on the front lines taking care of patients. So many of us have been able to move to virtual or remote work, but we need to give thanks to all the clinicians and technicians that have stayed on the front lines with boots on the ground taking care of our patients and operators.
Terri Couts, SVP & Chief Digital Officer, The Guthrie Clinic
There are so many heroes in healthcare, but in my opinion, it is the front-line staff who are the true unsung heroes. This can be anyone from the bedside nurse, respiratory therapist, food and nutrition support, or EVS. It is those individuals who decided to keep showing up when it sometimes seemed like an impossible task. It is those individuals who didn’t run away from the additional challenges that COVID brought and embraced the course that change must happen. Through these individuals is where the real art of innovation is taking place — not accepting what was handed to us, but taking it and making it better.
Saad Chaudhry, Chief Digital & Information Officer, Luminis Health
Patients (meaning every human, since we are all patients at some point). The delivery of healthcare is incredibly complex, yet a critical thing to get right. And it can often be a struggle for a patient, especially when you’re at your most vulnerable and fearing your mortality. Ironically it is this very factor that drives me to do better. And it is the foundation for my “Give Back Time” approach.
Tracy Elmer, Chief Innovation Officer, TrueCare
I’m going out on a total limb here by sharing that I think our senior citizen patients represent a group of unsung heroes in healthcare. In today’s digitally connected world they are navigating their (often complex) care needs in a highly technologically dependent era without having foundational exposure or hands-on experience. Often, they are doing so without help or assistance, which can be overwhelming. With that, it’s been my observation and experience that our seniors have a strong desire to adopt and utilize the tools to their fullest potential as it supports independence in a meaningful way. It’s been my privilege to be part of something special at TrueCare where we recently had our Golden Years community workgroup complete a digital health literacy focused (Technology 101) workshop. The topics ranged from covering device basics to using the patient portal to manage their care and access vital health information. I had the pleasure of attending their ‘graduation’ and was both inspired and moved to tears by their genuine excitement to receive a formal certificate and leave feeling empowered and in direct control of their health. A patient engagement story for the ages! They are my true heroes.
Gretchen Britt, VP, Information Technology, Liberty Hospital
I’m not just saying this because of the initials that follow my name, but I believe nurses are the unsung heroes in healthcare. The skill and compassion that a nurse exhibits with each contact is key to patient care. As a nurse you are the advocate for your patient, the one providing the daily care and working in partnership with physicians to ensure the patient’s needs are met. Whether it is helping to bring a new life into the world or holding a patient’s hand as they pass, the nurse is there.
Zafar Chaudry, SVP and Chief Digital & Information Officer, Seattle Children’s
The healthcare industry is filled with dedicated professionals who work tirelessly to provide quality care to patients. While doctors and nurses often receive the most recognition, there are many other unsung heroes who play a vital role in the healthcare system, including allied health professionals such as nursing assistants, patient representatives, support services folks, various technicians in the lab and pharmacy, and environmental services workers.
Chuck Christian, CTO & VP of Technology, Franciscan Health
The caregivers, for sure. Not just the nurses and doctors, but the full teams that go above and beyond each day to care for the communities that they serve. Of course, the IT departments are always in the background, ensuring that the tools that the teams need are there and fully functional.