• Stephen Harden

Five Magic Phrases to Get More Executive Support for Your PatientSafety Program

Let’s deal with it.


If your executive team doesn’t give you and your patient safety program the time, attention, resources, and money you need to be successful, your initiative is going to falter. The facts are pretty ugly. Research shows that up to 70% of patient safety initiatives fail. They don’t change anything.



Sure, you’ve got great ideas. And no one is more passionate than you about safety or quality. But really, without executive support from your CEO, CMO, CNO, or other senior leaders, how many of your ideas and programs will really succeed?


So the question is, “How do I get their support?”


Answer: By aligning your interests with theirs.


What is their interest?


If we believe all the research and surveys done, it’s this:


“How do we operate in a treacherous environment of...

• Flat or declining volumes and reimbursement,

• Increased quality and patient safety requirements,

• Increased capital demands due to affiliations and MD employment, and

• Increased credit and borrowing costs?”


In short, your boss is worried about the toxic mix of less revenue coupled with increasing costs.


Unfortunately the old ways of enhancing the bottom line by increasing patient volumes or expanding service lines are not as effective now.


The new strategy for improved revenues and profit margins will be based upon risk mitigation and leveraging Value Based Purchasing incentives.


Pound this into your head -- it is the “new normal.” You must be able to show an impact on the bottom line to ensure you get the support you need for your patient safety initiative.



Here’s the really cool part for you...


Effective patient safety programs based on TeamSTEPPS help with all of the above.


But if you can’t explain to your executive team how your patient safety initiative helps with risk mitigation or Value Based Purchasing, you probably won’t get the support you need.


When you approach senior leaders for help, or to enlist their support, here are several phrases you must have down cold:


“Our safety program will help reduce re-admissions by doing these things...______(fill in the blank) _______.”


“Our CRM project will help improve our core measures by doing..._________(fill in the blank) __________.”


“Our TeamSTEPPS initiative will help improve patient satisfaction survey scores because it... _______ (fill in the blank)_______________.”


“This safety initiative will reduce Hospital Acquired Conditions by...___(fill in the blank) _______.”


“Our CRM project will help us reduce complications of treating Medicare patients with co-morbidities by...___(fill in the blank)__________.”


You must be able to fill in the blanks and explain succinctly how your safety, quality, CRM, TeamSTEPPS, or Process Improvement project is going to address the issues that keep senior leaders awake at night.


After 20 years of dealing with executive teams during patient safety projects I can tell you this is the shortest and most effective method of gaining their support for your work.




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