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From Struggles to Success: Lessons Learned in 2020

By Tim Pierce, CEO of Morrison Healthcare

We won’t likely forget 2020. The year has been filled with challenges and struggles. Difficulty and dissention. I hate to say it, since it has become a cliché at this point, but 2020 has been “unprecedented.” Beyond the challenges, we have also experienced amazing demonstrations of compassion and selflessness. Just look at our country’s healthcare workers. Caregivers have repeatedly sacrificed, showing a remarkable commitment to patients. Their dedication has been a ray of light.

The same can be said for our teams at Morrison Healthcare. I have been humbled by their dedication to patients, families and communities. We have found new ways to improve the level of service we provide patients. It hasn’t always been easy, but I am proud of the work we have done.

As we wrap up the year, I wanted to share a few of the lessons we’ve learned in 2020 and what they mean for me personally and for the industry as a whole.

It’s not the “new normal.” It’s the “next normal.”

There really isn’t a normal state anymore—not that there ever was. As a result, we don’t discuss the “new normal,” instead we are looking for the “next normal.” We’ve seen so much change over the past year and recognize that change will continue. Right now, we are seeing the next iteration of the market, so we need to plan accordingly. That means never resting on our laurels. By constantly looking for ways to innovate and advance our industry, we can help to define the next normal and build a successful business that enhances our community and invigorates the lives of our associates.

Take care of your people and they will take care of your business

People are at the center of healthcare. There’s a reason there is a lot of competition for top talent, even during a pandemic. The best associates and caregivers provide the best care, which improves the patient experience and outcomes. Companies must invest in their people through recruitment and retention strategies. It’s about understanding the value of people and rewarding them with career paths and incentives that drive loyalty and growth. Over the past year, we have implemented programs that have already had a significant impact on our operations, leading to a 25 percent improvement in frontline associate incentives. It is an investment in the people who serve patients.

Patients drive everything we do

We already knew this, but patients drive everything we do. We must remain committed to improving the patient experience. The pandemic hasn’t changed this. As a result, we must take care of the whole patient, not just their injury or disease. From patient care to silverware and pain management to smiling food and nutrition services associates, every touchpoint during a patient’s stay can impact their experience. With the rising importance of patient satisfaction surveys, hospitals are investing more resources in providing an excellent experience along with life-saving medical care. Food and nutrition services plays a pivotal role in creating an environment of healing and comfort. We’ve invested to bring this commitment to reality. Two years ago, we founded the Patient Solutions team. This year, we continued to invest. The team has nearly quadrupled, growing from a 12-person department to 43 associates around the country.

Disruption can lead to innovation

COVID-19 has disrupted business as normal. It also serves as an opportunity to acknowledge and embrace that disruption by finding new strategies and solutions. Through innovation, we can find new efficiencies and drive meaningful changes that will have a quantifiable impact on our patients.

Some of the greatest innovations have come out of disruption. There is a concept called “disruptive innovation,” which generally refers to a technological innovation that alters an industry. The pandemic has served as this catalyst for all of us. We have the opportunity to find new ways to meet the changing needs of our clients. In our case, we have attacked the tray assembly and delivery processes. Through new programs, called Team Build and Team Pass, we have dropped the total delivery time in half. Disruption can lead to innovation and the market will respond.

Flexibility is the key to success during a crisis

It’s important to be nimble in business. Through the pandemic, the most successful companies have demonstrated an ability to pivot quickly and provide innovative solutions to new challenges. When the pandemic first started, we faced a number of challenges and had to be flexible and come up with new solutions to meet the needs of our audiences. One example of this is Market On The Move. The program enlists food carts that stock health-conscious food and bring variety straight to those working on the hospital floors. By design, these carts are mobile allowing Market On The Move to serve more people in more places. The world is moving quickly. By being flexible, companies can find customized solutions that fit the situation and bring value to clients and patients.

Data is empowering hospital administrators to be successful today and tomorrow

We’ve seen data become more important than ever. Data is the foundation for decision making and can propel departments to success. It’s certainly true in food and nutrition services, where data is at the heart of improving the patient experience. Through data, hospitals can better understand the unique challenges they face and benchmark against their competition and peers.

Technology plays an important role in collecting the best data. With tools that properly integrate across the care continuum, hospitals can collect more data and better use it to improve processes. At Morrison, we’ve invested in proprietary technologies that fit seamlessly with the client’s electronic medical record, allowing for greater collaboration and problem solving across departments. Data is driving healthcare. We’re making sure to be on the front end of data collection, so we have the knowledge to innovate and better care for patients across the country.

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