Katie Owens - Healthcare Speaker and Executive Coach

Lead Author, The HCAHPS Imperative for Patient-Centered Excellence

Tag: Katie Owens

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.

Compassion is a Human Mandate

This week I had two humbling opportunities to contribute to the national patient experience dialogue and share deep convictions for compassion in health care. Gregg Loughman, General Manager & Vice President of PX Solutions at HealthStream, and I presented a webinar series, hosted by The Beryl Institute, on the CAHPS Imperative for Patient-Centered Care. I also had the honor to travel to New York City for an interview with CBS News to discuss the impact of surveys in improving the patient experience.

  1. By Establishing the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) Survey, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) took bold and progressive steps to spark a conversation about the importance of every patient having a voice in the quality of care received. Until that point, the patient experience was considered a “nice to do” and now the patient experience is among the top priorities for healthcare executives, staff and providers.
  2. Whether you love or hate any patient experience survey, they have been designed by patients and their loved ones to convey the behaviors that reflect quality care. There is no doubt that working to achieve the level that “Always” or “Best Possible Hospital” requires; however most times we would want those same criteria for our loved ones. We cannot have two separate standards for what we would want and what we provide.
  3. The CAHPS Surveys were never designed for organizations and caregivers to chase scores or penalize. They were created to capture feedback on the total health care experience and give data to help develop competencies that lead to safer, higher quality care. The feedback creates opportunities to celebrate the best in our organizations and improve reliability at the bedside.

Recent research that I have had the opportunity to conduct has demonstrated that high performing cultures lead to a more engaged workforce, better patient experience performance, lower turnover rates and more favorable performance with value-based care measures. I encourage everyone to take the CAHPS Survey that most applies to their work area. Take the survey from the shoes, slippers and gowns of your patients. Use this as an opportunity to talk about why the patient experience matters in your organization. To me, the government never needed to mandate compassion but their progressive steps created recognition that compassion is a human imperative- every person, every time.

Surveys on patient experience