Katie Owens - Healthcare Speaker and Executive Coach

Lead Author, The HCAHPS Imperative for Patient-Centered Excellence

Tag: Culture

Culture Matters in Today’s Healthcare Environment

When talking about healthcare, what is culture? It can consist of many different elements in healthcare. From the way things are done in the organization to relationships among people that dictate how they behave. It also includes a set of shared beliefs and values. Each belief (while uniquely described by many) universally acknowledges that culture is an important part of the fabric of any organization.

Despite the fact that many people have the conviction that organizational culture will either enable an organization’s success or serve as a barrier to achieving outcomes, broaching the subject can cause leaders or frontline team members to shy away. Culture can feel messy, hard, and inconvenient. We may be proud of some aspects of our it but disappointed in others. Our team sought to find evidence outside of anecdote and theory to help leaders understand the role culture plays in creating excellence. That query led us to conduct our recent study demonstrating that culture does impact outcomes. The two big learnings we had are:

1. High performing cultures are more likely to do better than low performing cultures on key balanced scorecard metrics: Employee and Physician Engagement, Patient Experience, Value-Based Purchasing, and Turnover. These cultures did not outperform by a small margin, but a margin of magnitude and statistical significance. In other words, culture is not “nice to have” but critical to create demonstrable outcomes.

2. Engaging your employees in your culture is the most powerful step to create positive results. Your workforce is the lifeblood of your organizational culture: their engagement, relationships with leadership and each other, and commitment to your mission. We found four key levers that are likely to support achievement of outcomes:

  • Employees who treat patients as valued customers
  • Employees whose values are very similar to the values of the organization
  • Employees who feel that being a member of the organization is very rewarding
  • Employees who are proud to be a part of the organization

There is no question healthcare leaders, staff, and physicians are persevering every day to provide the best care to patients despite myriad challenges. Teams are craving cultures that give them a sense of purpose and joy. As we work to create a “new normal” that equips our organization to provide person-centered excellence across the continuum of care, our findings indicate that leaders should pay attention to their cultures and actively steer workforce engagement to create employee pride, a focus on the customer, and shared values.

Visit Katie’s blog on The Culture Imperative.

Creating a Culture of Accountability – Where Do You Stand?

accountability

If you want to achieve world-class levels of performance in the patient experience (or any other key performance measures) you must create a culture of accountability in leaders for achieving results and ultimately aligning the actions and behaviors of staff and physicians to help reach desired outcomes. HealthStream Engagement Institute has coached nearly 60,000 leaders, staff, and physicians over the last 12 months and, through that coaching, we have seen some interesting trends:

Yet, when we ask leaders if we could tell the difference between their high, solid, and under-achieving performers based on their annual evaluations, we overwhelmingly hear a common response: “No.” This problem is so pervasive that on our HEI patient-centered excellence survey of nearly 25,000 responses, the lowest scoring items include tolerance for poor performers and employee input leads to change. These gaps are magnified because organizations are allowing poor performers to continue undermining success. Meanwhile, leaders fail to engage and recognize their high performers. You can put any performance system in place. What is typically missing is how to establish the right accountability for outcomes. In our work with America’s hospitals and health systems, we find four crucial elements to understanding your strengths and gaps for creating a roadmap to sustainable accountability.

• Selection and Retention
• Workforce Development
• Performance Management
• Measurement

What is Your Snapshot?

The following items are a limited portion of the evaluation process that HEI uses to determine the state of organizational accountability. Take a look and see how your organization scores.

accountability

CLIENT SPOTLIGHT

Phelps Memorial Hospital CenterSleepy Hollow, NY

Phelps Memorial Hospital Center (PMHC) began a journey of transforming patient experience in February 2012, beginning with HEI’s Patient-Centered Excellence Assessment. That process provided them with a roadmap to improvement, part of which included enhancing their methods of leadership development and creating accountability for performance. Each level of leadership, from executives to frontline supervisors, has embraced their roles and responsibilities and committed to a long-term investment in their culture. As a result, PMHC has experienced drastically improved outcomes in employee engagement and the patient experience.

accountability

High-performing organizations create an environment of accountability where their top talent is aligned and engaged to produce the right results. This type of culture is pervasive throughout the continuum of employment, one which starts with the application and interview process and continues throughout the life cycle of an employee. An environment that is geared towards maximizing the potential of each member of its team and empowers them to improve things for themselves and those they serve will put your organization in the best position for success.

Printed Summer 2014, Healthcare Workforce Advisor

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