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Hospital Emotional Intelligence: Is it Possible?

Mike Mattox SASHE award
Mike Mattox received the SASHE award

The first day of the ASHE Annual Conference has come to a close. The morning started off with ASHE President, Philip C. Stephens’, MHA, CPE, CHFM, FASHE keynote speech and awards ceremony. Our own Mike Mattox, National Account Manager, Schneider Electric US, was the youngest member ever to be recognized with a SASHE award. The highest ASHE recognition, the Crystal Eagle Award, was presented to George Mills, MBA, FASHE, CEM, CHFM, CHSP, director of the Department of Engineering at the Joint Commission. It’s clear that all these award winners live by Mr. Stephen’s words of wisdom, “What you know matters far less than what you can do with what you know.” Our congratulations go out to all the award winners!

The opening session continued with a presentation on emotional intelligence, by Travis Bradberry, PhD and co-author of the best-selling book Emotional Intelligence 2.0. Travis shared some great insight into why we are controlled by our emotions and the four steps to emotional intelligence:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Self-management
  3. Social awareness
  4. Relationship management
Travis Bradberry, co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0
Travis Bradberry, co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0

Did you know that we experience 27 emotions every hour? Every hour!! (I didn’t even know that 27 emotions existed.) Yet only 36% of us are aware of our emotions in the moment. Emotions can get the best of us, in good times and in bad, but if we become more self-aware, we can take the opportunity to step back and examine the situation before having a snap emotional response.  This skill is called “emotional intelligence” and like any skill, it takes practice.

The concept of practicing emotional intelligence is vital in the healthcare setting, where we are caring for vulnerable patients and families who are experiencing a myriad of emotions. Often, nurses and medical staff get the brunt of these emotions. They try to step back and address the situation in a rational manner instead of causing a defensive chain reaction of emotional war that does nothing to help either the patient or themselves.

Working in the healthcare industry is all about taking care of patients, but it’s also all about relationships — with patients, families, colleagues, facilities staff, and even the local or maybe even global community. Travis notes that the biggest mistake we make in relationships is trying to “win the battle to lose the war.”

This idea to keep the bigger picture in mind is the foundation on which an intelligent hospital infrastructure is built. An intelligent hospital infrastructure is one that can monitor and automate buildings systems in order to protect patients and the operating budget. The goal is not to react to each and every maintenance issue, alarm, or notification. The goal is to prevent the issues from happening in the first place in order to minimize the impact on patient safety and financial health. Hospitals that proactively keep the bigger picture in mind will succeed in providing a safe and efficient environment for patients and staff.

For instance, hospitals that implement emergency power supply test solutions (EPSS) are proactively protecting their patients and the hospital’s wallet by ensuring that power will always remain on. And if the power does go out, emergency power is guaranteed, and will be focused first to those critical areas such as operating rooms, ICUs, and dialysis units where the patient’s lives depend on that power.

The title of this blog asks if it is possible to have an emotionally intelligent hospital. The answer is “Yes.” An intelligent hospital infrastructure provides self-awareness and self-management of critical facility systems, not to mention social awareness of the hospital environment (e.g. temperature monitoring and occupancy sensors in patient rooms), as well as relationship management with other hospital systems and software.

However, this is just the beginning. We can further adopt the concept of emotional intelligence into hospital infrastructure design by considering the infrastructure’s impact on patient and staff well-being. How would you answer these questions? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

  • How does an inefficient infrastructure affect the emotions of those that work with it every day?
  • How do those emotions affect staff productivity, communication, and job satisfaction?
  • What is the effect on patients and their ability to heal emotionally and physically?
  • In what other ways can we build an emotionally intelligent infrastructure that considers the bigger picture?

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