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Promoting health worker resilience and joy at work is helping to improve quality of care in Mexico’s public health facilities

When health workers feel supported and cared for, they are better able to provide care in a manner that respects patients’ dignity and humanity.
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The global prevalence of burnout in health workers during the COVID-19 pandemic turned to crisis as caseloads of critically ill patients increased with often insufficient resources to care for them. Evidence suggests that, in Latin America and elsewhere, health workers experienced significant trauma during the pandemic that impaired their ability to provide quality care for patients.

To help alleviate stress and physical and psychological exhaustion facing health workers, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and Partners in Health (PIH), with support from Johnson & Johnson Foundation, launched the Well-being, Resilience and Dignified Treatment Program in Mexico. The project aims to improve the welfare and resilience of multidisciplinary health teams providing primary healthcare services, and increase the provision of dignified treatment for patients requiring care and their families. Longer term, by building a more resilient health workforce, the project seeks to increase retention rates within the medical profession and improve access to healthcare for underserved populations.

The project brought together 21 public healthcare institutions offering primary and secondary care across eight states in Mexico to strengthen competencies in quality improvement through the practical application of concepts, methods, and tools. It also focused on building prototype care models and frameworks to improve health outcomes and the experience of care for health workers and patients alike. While the project primarily targeted nurses at the point of care, it also reached managers and leaders with the capacity to create systems that promote resilience and a sense of joy in work for health workers within the Mexican public health context.

“Our vision is that outcomes improve for both patients and healthcare providers,” says Associate Project Manager for IHI, Sandra Herrera. “It is vital that health workers can work in an environment where patient care is a vocation full of meaning and purpose, where they have choice and autonomy in their work life, where they can enjoy participative management, and where they can feel physically and psychologically safe. When health workers feel supported and cared for, they are better able to provide care in a manner that respects patients’ dignity and humanity.”

More than 160 health workers from participating health facilities completed a virtual 10-month Course Improvement Science in Practice (CMP), during which they developed skills in quality improvement through instruction, training, and experiential learning. The CMP is designed to help participants plan and execute improvement projects effectively; identify, diagnose, and resolve problems; define specific goals; develop measurement strategies; and make informed, data-driven decisions.

The success of the project is evident in its indicators and results, says Herrera. “The focus on the development of quality improvement competencies has had a tangible impact on the participating institutions, on health personnel and on patients and their families,” she says. “This comprehensive approach has proven to be key in the continuous improvement of quality in the field of health in Mexico."

  • 162 health workers trained across 21 institutions
  • 98% of patients surveyed at participating health facilities report a high level of satisfaction with the care received
  • 81% of health workers from participating health facilities now report having a sense of belonging, meaning and purpose in their work
  • 70% of health workers now report their voice is taken into account in decision-making within their organization
  • 64% of health workers report being satisfied in their work relationships – an increase from 59%
  • 64% of health workers are confident about doing their job well – an increase from 58%

Community Impact Leader for Johnson & Johnson in Mexico, Paola Martinez Chiñas says the project is a sustainable approach to increasing health workers’ connection and integration with peers, supervisors, patients, and the healthcare system.

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Community Impact Leader for Johnson & Johnson in Mexico, Paola Martinez Chiñas (right) and Director for the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Paola Ortiz at a participating health facility, Hospital de la Luz.

“The program addresses in a sustainable way the challenges facing healthcare professionals in Mexico," says Martinez. “When healthcare workers are happy and connected with their vocation of saving lives and caring for patients, there is an improved healthcare experience for patients, higher productivity, fewer mistakes, and an improved working environment. We are proud of the significant impact the program has had in empowering those at the frontlines of care to deliver better healthcare to vulnerable communities in Mexico.”