The values in health organizations today

Òscar Dalmau and Valentí Martínez, member of the Management Committee and Academic Director of the Chair of Leadership in Values at UVic-UCC, respectively

A joint perspective between the Chair of Leadership in Values and Unió Consorci Formació on the values of health organizations.

In a moment of transformation and significant change as experienced by the healthcare sector, both in Catalonia and elsewhere, the Chair of Leadership in Values at UManresa and Unió Consorci Formació (Catalan Union of Hospitals and Consortium of Health and Social Care of Catalonia) have wanted to take a joint look to identify the values that health organizations are incorporating as key elements in their directions and strategic plans.

In fact, with the periodic updates of the lines and strategic plans of organizations, including the review of their vision and mission, it is also natural to review the values that should guide them to face and overcome the challenges ahead. These processes of redefinition are generally collaborative and participatory with the entire organization, and they serve to jointly outline the direction as well as the whats and hows to get there.

When, for example, in the late ’90s, an entity said ‘we are a friendly and professional hospital organization,’ and now says ‘we are an organization committed to improving the health and well-being of people and the community,’ it is not just an aesthetic change or the incorporation of words that may sound better. It is an expression of the will and direction in which it is currently working. And that is why values do not have a static meaning. They depend on personal and collective experiences, and like them, their meanings also evolve (the previous example reflects the evolution from talking about ourselves to focusing on others, the true purpose).

The values in health organizations in Catalonia

Having analyzed the values currently published by more than 100 hospitals and health organizations in Catalonia, following the 4 levels of the conceptual framework of the Chair in Leadership and Values, we identify:

  • At a personal level: rreferences to ethics, integrity, honesty, adaptability, responsibility, etc. That is, the dimension directly linked to the personal, ethical, and moral values of each, understanding them as a personal foundation connected with professionalism and commitment to vocation, profession, and the code of ethics, inspiring and guiding behaviour and practice.
  • At the team and individual level: respect, dignity, empathy, assertiveness, humanity, recognition, teamwork, trust, human treatment, proximity, multidisciplinary work, etc. It is a set of ethical, social, and relational values that originate from oneself (initiative, flexibility, constancy…) and connect, integrate, and make us part of a shared project as a team.
  • At the organizational level: the focus is on values of competence, corporate culture, collective intelligence. Thus, innovation, agility, adaptability, efficiency and sustainability, service and people orientation, efficiency, vocation towards excellence, quality and continuous improvement, collaboration and cooperation, person-centred care, etc. Therefore, a focus that connects collective wills and capacities towards new ways of doing.
  • At the environmental level, linked to the purpose. Promoting new ways of doing (more creative, leveraging digital and innovation potential but also alliances and cooperation with others), to enhance person-centred care, personalized support, empowerment of patients and families,… in an inclusive, respectful, generous, humble, equal, transparent, and equitable manner. Values that connect organizational competence with its sense of positive contribution to society. They have a more ethical aspect linked to the community and social responsibility.

Quadruple Aim of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement

The values in health system organizations are therefore aligned with the conceptual framework of the University Chair of Values-Based Leadership at UManresa. At the same time, they also correspond to the Quadruple Aim of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, where a global framework is established to achieve quality care and value-based health through four interrelated objectives and strategies (1): improving population health with equity; efficiency, sustainability, and cost reduction for organizations and the system; enhancing the patient experience and empowering them in their active role; increasing professional satisfaction and caring for their well-being.

Therefore, values are the guide that must accompany the behaviours and actions of all health professionals to make it possible. That’s why it is necessary to highlight them and give them a voice. To make us more aware of them, to connect them more with our daily practice, and so that they naturally guide new ways of doing things, safer, more efficient, and of more value to society.

And in this, all of us are involved. Because our work is an example of our way of interacting with others. So, do not keep apart. It depends on you.

(1). https://www.ihi.org/communities/blogs/the-triple-aim-or-the-quadruple-aim-four-points-to-help-set-your-strategy