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Charting the course to zero harm: A nationwide call to elevate safety

Recently, substantial activity at the national level has called attention to patient safety and the need to accelerate our progress toward zero harm. This focus is particularly salient given the impacts of the pandemic. The National Steering Committee/National Action Plan, HHS Action Alliance, President’s Council of Advisors in Science and Technology report, CMS proposed structural measure, and other activities have all thrown a spotlight on the conversations happening around patient safety, as well as the important work to be done.

Alongside these efforts, the American Hospital Association (AHA) is launching a national Patient Safety Initiative to reaffirm hospital and health system leadership and commitment to patient safety. Many healthcare leaders have expressed their passion to work together with the AHA to reinforce and accelerate patient safety efforts.

In 2024, the AHA Patient Safety Initiative is focusing on three foundational areas:

  1. Fostering a culture of safety, from the boardroom to the bedside
  2. Identifying and addressing inequities in safety
  3. Enhancing workforce safety 

These foundational areas are directly aligned with recommendations in the National Action Plan for Patient Safety—a strategy near and dear to me: I previously served as co-chair of the National Steering Committee, which created the National Action Plan, and was a member of the Strategic Advisory Group that advised AHA on this patient safety initiative. It’s critically important to focus on these foundational areas to create the fertile soil in which specific safety initiatives can thrive.

As one of AHA’s dedicated data partners on the Patient Safety Initiative, Press Ganey strongly supports and is committed to this work. We are particularly well suited to drive progress across the three foundational areas due to the volume and quality of our data, as well as the best practices we’ve identified and helped organizations implement.

1. Fostering a culture of safety, from the boardroom to the bedside

A strong safety culture in healthcare is essential to achieve strong safety outcomes. Components like leader behaviors, transparency, fair and just culture, psychological safety, and a robust learning system are essential to build and support a culture of organization-wide safety. And safety culture is tightly linked to employee engagement, which is a critical priority at this moment

Press Ganey brings a lot to the table when it comes to helping healthcare organizations improve safety culture and high reliability—and advance the goal of zero harm.

  • We collect and maintain national safety culture trend data and offer the largest safety culture benchmarking database in the U.S. 
  • Our safety culture surveys reveal how employees perceive safety at your organization, and next steps for improvement.
  • Our high reliability consulting solutions provide a comprehensive roadmap for safety culture transformation.
  • The High Reliability Platform collects safety issues, then optimally analyze and learn from them to drive improvement.
  • The country’s fastest-growing Patient Safety Organization helps organizations advance transparency and learning.

2. Identifying and addressing inequities

Inequities contribute to physical and emotional harm across the continuum of care. Therefore, an equity lens must be applied to all the work we are doing in patient and workforce safety.

Press Ganey is staunchly committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in healthcare. Our solutions are fine-tuned to improve DEI across the industry, especially when safety is concerned.

  • We facilitate the routine segmentation of data (safety culture, PX, EX) by race/ethnicity, age, gender, and other important characteristics to identify disparities.
  • Our Equity Partnership is a collaborative of 200+ health systems to share best practices for improving DEI.
  • We’ve embedded equity into our healthcare safety consulting offerings.
  • Equity determinants are also deeply embedded into the High Reliability Platform for analysis of safety events.

3. Enhancing workforce safety

The healthcare workforce is the backbone of our industry—and leaders must prioritize employee safety to keep them thriving. The physical and emotional safety of the workforce is a precondition to achieving patient safety, as well as the optimal experiences and outcomes.

Press Ganey has a deep bench of technologies, tools, and expertise, all dedicated to the healthcare workforce—with an emphasis on ensuring excellence in safety.

  • Our National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators® (NDNQI®) collects and analyzes nursing data, including safety metrics like assaults against nurses.
  • Our national workforce engagement and resilience data points to industry trends, helping organizations understand how they compare—where they’re excelling and where they can improve to better fortify the workforce.
  • Our data shows safety culture is closely linked to employee engagement, and our employee engagement surveys help organizations measure this crucial component of the employee experience.
  • Press Ganey’s team of workforce safety consultants guide healthcare leaders in their journey to stop employee harm before it occurs.
  • The High Reliability Platform lets healthcare organizations report on workforce safety issues and provides a robust analysis of causes.

We, at Press Ganey, look forward to working with AHA hospital and health system members and all of our clients to better understand national trends in safety as well as implement best practices to accelerate improvements. To discuss these initiatives—and your goals—further, please reach out to a member of our team

About the author

As Chief Safety and Transformation Officer, Dr. Gandhi, MPH, CPPS is responsible for improving patient and workforce safety, and developing innovative healthcare transformation strategies. She leads the Zero Harm movement and helps healthcare organizations recognize inequity as a type of harm for both patients and the workforce. Dr. Gandhi also leads the Press Ganey Equity Partnership, a collaborative initiative dedicated to addressing healthcare disparities and the impact of racial inequities on patients and caregivers. Before joining Press Ganey, Dr. Gandhi served as Chief Clinical and Safety Officer at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), where she led IHI programs focused on improving patient and workforce safety.

Profile Photo of Dr. Tejal Gandhi, MPH, CPPS