Patient-centered leadership and front-line quality care

AHA News

Eye on Patients is a recurring series on improving the quality of hospital care and patient safety. The AHA’s Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET) on July 19 presented Maureen Bisognano, president and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) in Boston, with its 2012 TRUST Award during the Health Forum and AHA Leadership Summit in San Francisco. The award honors health care leaders who harness research and education to improve health care policy. HRET President Maulik Joshi, who also is the AHA’s senior vice president for research, recently talked to Bisognano about patient-centered leadership, ways to improve health care, and experiences that have shaped her ideas on quality and patient and family engagement. The following is an excerpt of the interview, which appeared in the June issue of our sister publication, Hospitals & Health Networks magazine, and is available at


Joshi: Patient-centered care is a team sport these days with patients, providers and the public. What role does leadership play in fostering the culture to embrace patient-centeredness?


Bisognano: I see a vast difference between what I would call patient-centered leadership and patient-satisfaction leadership. At some organizations, leaders focus on measuring patient satisfaction, and when I’m making rounds on floors and talking to front-line staff, the culture is about compliance. At organizations with leaders who truly demonstrate that the patient’s voice is more important than anything else, you see a very different culture. It’s everything from having a welcoming spirit or a respectful conversation to anticipating and seeking patients’ wishes before orders are carried out. In these organizations, I see patients sitting on councils or committees for physical plant design and the like. This culture carries down to the front line with doctors and nurses who offer patients a choice about medications or treatment before they’re automatically carried out.


Joshi: You are a strong advocate for engaging and including patients. What professional and other experiences influenced you and contributed to the passion and dedication to your work?


Bisognano: In part, it’s been my own experiences in my family and as a caregiver. I started my career as a labor coach. In those days, I cared for...

Topic: Quality and Patient Safety

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