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Are Hospital Employees the Key to Patient Satisfaction?

HealthWare Systems Blog

Are Hospital Employees the Key to Patient Satisfaction?

Posted on Tue, Jul 12, 2016

Kevin Kruse, NY Times bestselling author and Forbes columnist. “Employee engagement is the emotional commitment employees have to the company and its goals,” he says.

While satisfied employees may arrive at work on time and do their job competently, engaged employees will contribute to the overall organizational values and mission by acting beyond the limitations of their job description. For example, fully-engaged hospital employees are those that greet each patient by looking them in the eye and smiling, that pick up a dirty towel off the floor rather than calling housekeeping, and respond to a patient call even if it isn’t their own patient.

Employee engagement is critical to patient satisfaction, especially in today’s era of Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Services (HCAHPS) scores, which address 21 patient perspectives on care that encompass nine key topics:

  1. Communication with doctors

  2. Communication with nurses

  3. Responsiveness of hospital staff

  4. Pain management

  5. Communication about medicines

  6. Discharge information

  7. Cleanliness of the hospital environment

  8. Quietness of the hospital environment

  9. Transition of care

Moving the needle on a hospital’s HCAHPS scores can sometimes be a process of trial and error, as it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what is causing low scores. However, Kruse insists that the engagement of hospital staff is a key tool:

“Despite advances in medical technology, healthcare is still a people-intensive business, and improving HCAHPS scores and reducing HACs requires an investment in human capital—specifically, on employee engagement.”

How Can Hospitals Improve Employee Engagement?

Creating an environment in which employees feel supported and challenged, appreciated and recognized for excellent work is the path to establishing true engagement. But all of this requires more than just compensation plans and company picnics. While technology solutions that make employees’ jobs easier and more efficient are helpful, as a stand-alone solution, software falls short. Engagement must be driven from the top, and healthcare leaders will need to acknowledge their primary role.

While engagement can be tied to a wide range of initiatives and policies, the most powerful are:

1. A Common Mission

Clear and meaningful core values and goals that support the organization’s mission and business strategies, and guide the behavior of all employees – from the executive offices, to the operating table and the cafeteria. These values should be communicated from the leadership, and reinforced across the board on a regular basis.

2. Ask for Feedback – and Act on it

Feedback is important to know whether your organization’s policies, procedures and equipment are effective in supporting its mission. And the best way to know this is to ask – not just once, but regularly in order to track both positive and negative change.

Regular surveys of both front-line employees, who are using the policies and equipment and interacting with patients, as well as patients whose experiences inform scores like HCAHPS, are the best way to understand how your organization is performing and where the opportunities lie for improvement.

But feedback without action is worthless. Translating survey information to an action plan that is tied to deadlines, identifies individuals or groups responsible, and proposes desired outcomes is integral to making lasting and impactful positive change.

3. Recognize Success

Recognition programs for employees are an underutilized and effective tools for encouraging engagement. Recognition can be as simple as a hand-written note from a supervisor, or verbal recognition in front of a group of peers. Sharing positive patient feedback also helps validate the positive effects of employee’s efforts and can reinforce caring efforts.

4. Using Data to Link Patient Dissatisfaction to Hospital Policies and Procedures

Tying patient feedback to data from a patient tracking system can help circumvent some of the trial and error associated with increasing patient satisfaction score, as it can point toward activities or areas that may be causing specific negative impressions. For example, systems like ActiveTrack integrate with existing patient information systems to measures patient registration and clinical wait times, and track patients as they move from one department to another throughout a facility, notifying the appropriate clinical staff so they can be prepared to welcome and address the patient by name. The results can be reduced patient wait times and more personalized care – both key factor’s in patient satisfaction scores.

Watch a video to see how ActiveTrack helps reduce patient wait times, and helps employees support patient satisfaction:

Watch the ActiveTRACK video

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