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Does one size fit all? Exploring provider behavior interventions and best practices alignment to improve healthcare for all

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the United States to reassess public health as we know it. In a time where providers were forced to wear trash bags as personal protective gear and alarming ICU rates across the nation, it is clear we are witnessing a shift in the future of healthcare services. But to what extent have these shifts and constraints impacted provider behavior?

Many providers, including nurses, physicians, or mental health counselors, reported experiencing burnout before the pandemic, but one year later, the feeling has become far more prevalent. Provider burnout and other behaviors may have implications for the uptake of best practices in hospital settings. Managing the long-term impacts of COVID-19 will require developing effective and sustainable provider behavior interventions that seamlessly align with best practices as part of routine care.

A recent study done by the Centene Center for Health Transformation, partners of the Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis, explored the state of evidence regarding interventions to change provider behavior in health or behavioral health settings. A quality patient-provider relationship plays a key role in the uptake of quality healthcare services. But, if this relationship is not well established it can lead to negative outcomes. During this unprecedented time, this systematic literature review is pertinent to setting precedent in exploring evidence on the alignment of provider behavior and best practices.

Provider behavior research is critical because it seeks to explore and identify best methods to positively influence these factors and align provider behavior with best practices. Patient-provider interactions can be impacted by various factors, such as clinical training for providers, social factors, or even personal bias. This study found both single-component education/training-based interventions and multifaceted interventions to be most successful in encouraging provider behavior change.

As a result of this study, researchers discovered successful single-component interventions included highly engaging tailored sessions, follow-up opportunities, and credible training leadership. Paired with the right communication approaches, multifaceted interventions encouraged provider behavior changes, although not as successfully as single-component. These findings will inform providers and stakeholders, including policymakers and health care administrators, to develop sustainable behavior interventions to improve healthcare for all. It will require stakeholders to advocate for tailored multi-step interventions utilizing multiple collaborative resources.

The study also found acceptance of interventions amongst providers varied depending on the duration of the training and audience size. It suggests the duration of training does not need to be short or lengthy for providers to respond positively, rather, required training should remain concise while providing adequate information. Additionally, financial incentives alone were not the main factor for changes in provider behavior. Many providers emphasized the importance of delivering quality care over personal gains.

Will provider behavior changes require different approaches post-pandemic? As providers continue to grapple with the long-term physical and mental impacts of COVID-19, scientific understanding of these changes may have shifted. Delays are common in the uptake and implementation of best practices in routine care, making it dire to rapidly identify effective methods to align behavior interventions and best practices.

Healthcare services continue to evolve daily under the strain of COVID-19. This systematic literature review continues to emphasize the importance of further research. Successfully aligning provider behavior and best practices will require a clear distinction between intention, and action as this review underscores. Applying lessons from previously implemented interventions will improve patient outcomes, provider satisfaction, and overall quality of care.

Learn more about the study by reading the full journal publication. (