The March of Dimes effort to reduce or eliminate elective deliveries and C-sections has led to thousands of women not having major unnecessary surgery and babies who would have required NICU care who instead had a superior birthing experience. This might be the single most meaningful accomplishment ever for the March of Dimes. We should all say: “Thank You, March of Dimes!”
As discussed in part one of this series, different generations see and do things differently; however, within each of these groups is a desire for innovation. Leaders of all ages within this space need to send a message that each age group matters. When it comes to the baby business, this especially pertains to the Millennial, Gen-X and soon approaching Gen-Z groups. We simply can’t afford to let a generational gap exist in this area. To help respond to this need, here are three key areas that should be focused on to build and sustain cross-generational communication and cooperation inside and outside of the organization.
1. Be More Inclusive: This is the first step before digging into the more granular details of this process. Before all else, ensure that every age group is included and made to feel like a required piece of the puzzle. Each generational division boasts invaluable knowledge and assets – all which should be carefully integrated into the patient process. 2. Manage Expectations: Expectations can be managed if we first seek to understand, and to understand, we need communication – specifically, multi-channel communication, as that is how maternity patients are primarily communicating today. This also needs to happen as quickly as possible, as the expectations are already set. This leads us into our next point…
3. Aggressively pursue communication channels that are already embraced by younger generational cohorts: Live Web and video chat, YouTube and social media are all innovative new avenues that hospitals should be taking to embrace younger generational cohorts. For example, in the women’s services section of your hospital’s website, offer an informational YouTube video addressing commonly asked questions and concerns. Also, establishing a strong social media presence enables you to respond to patient inquires in near real-time. Or, live chat can help support a more personal, quality relationship. For instance, as opposed to sitting in a call queue, the patient can deploy a live chat session within seconds.
Women’s services leaders need to understand that to see a successful outcome – before true compliance is achieved – many communicational and cultural barriers will have to be broken down and bridges built. Each generation group must receive information in a form and frequency that offers them utility.
Every generation brings something special to the table for the hospital and healthcare space. Millennials are influencing healthcare with a new lexicon – which is beginning to impact the expectations of systems designed to care for patients, caregivers and the diverse demands of their lives and families – while healthcare organizations are still being largely led by the Baby Boomer generation and their expectations, methods and processes and terms we’ve dragged along from the 70s and 80s. A huge consideration must be these two groups, Gen-X, millennials and soon to be Gen-Z are both our childbearing universe and the source of our staff and emerging leaders.
Maternal/child leaders should be rewarding what they want done when it comes to breastfeeding. That is the general comment I’ve heard in conversation but when I drill down, I don’t get many ready answers on what those rewards should be for staff, physicians, or patients.
I’d like to first suggest a great program which has been shared in an article posted by the not-for-profit Illinois Breastfeeding Blueprint highlighting a program from Blessing Hospital in Quincy, Illinois. They call their program: Snuggle and Snooze which focuses on supporting the mother/infant bonding experience with major emphasis on breastfeeding. By placing all the attention on this single event, effectively they have made all other activities lower in priority. It is simple, focused, and what I would call elegant; in contrast to the many competing priorities of the department and drawing a distinction to the disease and trauma mission of the hospital.
Snuggle and Snooze time at Blessing Hospital Link
The most important new customer a hospital will ever have is a first time mom, especially millennial expectant mothers. This isn’t a trauma and it isn’t a disease. It is a baby that is making an entrance. Yet, for hospitals trying to partner with patients in their health and wellness goals, this is a major opportunity. That’s because millennial moms are most actively looking to establish a relationship with the hospital they choose to give birth at; they’re looking for more information during this critical time of their life and the life of their child. In fact, research conducted by global PR firm Weber Shandwick shows that millennial moms are more likely than all others to share information about goods and services and turn to both online and offline sources to do so.
True revolutions happen over time – lots of time. They also have a starting place –some kind of specific event and key players. For example, The Velvet Underground is credited as one of the most influential bands of the 1960s in the United States, but before rising to critical acclaim, the band endured a launching phase that was anything but impressive. In fact, the Velvet Underground may have sold as little as 30,000 copies in its early years; however, many have said that each one of its albums led to a new band being formed. Today, much of what we call rock and roll can be traced back and attributed to this revolutionary group.
It seems realistic to say that every space has a “Velvet Underground” – a pioneer who paved the way for the state of the industry as a whole. In labor and delivery leadership and maternity, that individual is Celeste Phillips. At this moment it is fair to say that millions of mothers and babies have been touched by Celeste’s pioneering work.