Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Employee Engagement Determines the Quality of Patient Care

Improving patient care has always been a healthcare priority, but outcomes are now tied directly to the bottom line.

More and more CMS is taking into account quality care and patient satisfaction measures to determine how much they will reimburse providers.
Interactions between healthcare employees and patients can often determine the patient satisfaction measures that influence this reimbursement. In addition, it’s these interactions that can convert a single visit into a loyal customer relationship or ensure a one-time customer.  If the patient/employee relationship is going to determine a large portion of the financial viability for healthcare organizations, it makes good fiscal sense to find ways of improving the quality of patient care through employee and patient interactions.  Employee engagement may be the single best way to make these improvements.
An HR Solutions case study using nearly 29,000 healthcare employee opinion surveys revealed compelling evidence that employee engagement has a direct tie to patient satisfaction. In the survey, it was determined that:
       85 percent of engaged employees displayed a genuinely caring attitude toward patients, compared to only 38 percent of disengaged employees.
       91 percent of engaged employees recognize their workplace as dedicated to patient care, compared to only 42 percent of disengaged employees.
It’s readily accepted that happy, connected, and supported employees offer diligent patient care. Unfortunately, according to a global workforce study, less than 44 percent of those who work in US healthcare facilities are considered highly engaged.
According to this study, one of the markers of high employee engagement is that employees have clear, measurable goals that allow them to understand how their performance drives success for the organization. However, employees also need clear feedback and guidance to reach those goals. Management can help accomplish these objectives by connecting individual employee goals with organization-wide initiatives, and implementing a recognition program for those that meet and exceed their targets.
Another key element in employee engagement, according to a study by Northwestern University, is communication. When employees feel their suggestions have no value to leadership, they stop offering them and disengage from the organization. This leads to faster turnover and lower work quality. In order to increase employee engagement, management must focus on building up employees through positive feedback and coaching. Employees should be able to assess this feedback, along with their own performance goals, so that they are engaged in the improvement process.
You may not immediately see the results of these engagement activities, but you need to remember the ultimate goal: Improved patient care. Building engagement takes time; it is not a seasonal activity for leadership, management, or HR to tackle and then forget about. Instead, it should be a slow and steady build that draws in more and more employees, and you must implement processes that will maintain your newly engaged culture.

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