Examining the Crossroads of Culture, Engagement and Patient Satisfaction

Running a company that interacts closely with patients and hospitals, we have a mandate to deliver a consistently high level of service to everyone we touch. We make no secret that our workplace culture is the driver behind that service. The same is true for nearly every consistently successful company in any industry, and that same culture of service is now being required of healthcare providers.

For hospitals and other care facilities, the mandate on culture goes beyond just delivering "great service." With patient satisfaction scores part of the equation that determines reimbursements, having a highly engaged workforce delivering the best service possible is one of the few factors that you can actively develop and commit to. Just how important is employee engagement for hospitals? Consider this sample of literature, white papers and discussion on the topic:

•    "Creating Sustainable Performance" (Harvard Business Review; January/February 2012)
•    "Hospitals Leverage Employee Engagement To Increase Patient Satisfaction" (HR.com; May 2012)
•    "The Relationship Between Employee Satisfaction and Hospital Patient Experiences" (FORUM whitepaper; April 2009)
•    "Engage Your Nurses in Improving HCAHPS" (The Baird Group Blog; April 19, 2012)
•    "When We’re Feeling Better, They're Feeling Better" (Towers Watson whitepaper; n.d.)

While academic study of this topic can supply us with the theoretical and statistical impact of the discussion, it's the personal impact of the initiatives that add color and create a whole picture of what workplace culture investment means for employee engagement. Here's a sampling of CEO comments from some of the top hospitals around the country:

An avenue to world class care
"…The only way that we could achieve world class care was through a dynamic and cohesive team of employees." — Rulon Stacey, CEO Poudre Valley Health System, Fort Collins, Colo.

Unifying your employees
"You need a unifying theme. If you focus on culture, especially in the healthcare industry, and you have organizations that are typified by silos, you could focus on engagement, but only within their silo. We try to organize a matrix organization that was truly cross functional. — Wayne Lerner, CEO, Holy Cross Hospital, Chicago

Involvement and transparency

"Give them multiple opportunities to share their input and have the transparency to get back to them and let them know what you did with their ideas. If people believe their voice is heard, they will be more engaged."  — Tony Armada, CEO, Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, Oak Brook, Ill.

"Big connection between employee engagement and patient experience. If they understand the mission and the vision, it trickles over into the patient. Patients will say that despite all of the stuff they were going through, they comment about how kind and helpful the employees were." — Melody Trimble, CEO, Sparks Health System,Fort  Smith, Ark.

"…So it's not just about getting people to do better, behave differently, to do what they're currently doing in a nicer and better and more efficient manner. That's not even half the battle. The other piece of it is without an engaged, satisfied, I want to say excited but that’s probably not the right word, workforce that's not capable of change management and changing the way we do things, we can't succeed because this industry is broken." — Elliott Joseph, Hartford (Conn.) Healthcare

Examining the personal perspectives and opinions of CEOs provides a valuable insight and context behind the employee engagement results that many hospitals are able to achieve.

If you're the CEO of a hospital facing possible repercussions in HCAHPS scores and reimbursements because of low employee engagement, the best opportunity to move forward is to focus on your greatest resource, your people. Make a commitment to culture, and you'll reap the rewards across many avenues.

More Articles Featuring BerylHealth:

Putting Employees First: How to Improve Patient Experience, Profitability
The Beryl Institute Patient Experience Conference 2012 Kicks Off; Reminds Providers "I am the Patient Experience"
Beryl Changes Name to BerylHealth to Reflect Growth

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