Managers are often inundated with meetings, but on Fridays, Yale New Haven Hospital leaders at all levels clear their calendars so they can focus on connecting with staff and patients.

Nearly a year ago, the hospital launched "meeting-free Fridays" for leaders, which include at least three hours of rounding on staff and, in clinical areas, patients. The rest of the day, leaders can work with staff on team development and engaging physicians and front-line staff in unit/department initiatives. Medical director-patient service manager dyad teams use the time to advance their departments' efforts to improve care quality and safety, clinical redesign and other priorities.

"Communication is at the heart of providing safe, high-quality, high-value care and an excellent patient experience," said Thomas Balcezak, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer, YNHH. "By dedicating time for leaders to round and meet with frontline staff, patients and families, we're providing opportunities for everyone to share suggestions and concerns, in the care environment, and in real time."

A recent survey of leaders about meeting-free Fridays showed that nearly half of respondents used the time to round on staff and about a quarter of the time to round on patients. The rest of the time was spent working with staff on projects, meeting with their patient service manager-medical director dyad partners and other activities. More than half of respondents said they were able to keep their Friday mornings meeting-free; others said if they weren't available Friday mornings, they scheduled another time to round and engage staff and patients.

Asked on the survey what they find most valuable about meeting-free Fridays and leadership rounding, many leaders used words such as "reconnecting," "engaging" and "focus." Their responses included:

  • Staff "like knowing that every Friday we are rounding. They appreciate the time and focus."
  • "More staff engagement, promoting better morale, connecting on a more personal level "
  • "This has been a great opportunity for staff to directly interact with senior leadership."
  • "Friday has quickly become my most productive day of the week regarding patient satisfaction. What a great feeling to finish the week and spend 3 hours dedicated to the patients and rounding!"