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Better patient experience starts with hospital culture

November 1st, 2011

by Anthony Cirillo

Morehead and Associates, a Charlotte, N.C., firm that measures workforce satisfaction and commitment in hospitals, reports that employees highly committed to the mission, vision, and values of the organization demonstrate the following:

  • Willingness to go "above and beyond," exerting additional effort
  • Energy and enthusiasm for their work
  • Loyalty to the organization--greater likelihood to stay employed
  • Pride in the organization and willingness to recommend the organization as a place to work and to receive care
  • Greater overall satisfaction

[More:]

What gets hospital employees to want to exhibit these behaviors--the drivers--are many, and these statements reflect those drivers:

  • This organization provides high-quality care and service.
  • I like the work I do.
  • My job makes good use of my skills and abilities.
  • This organization conducts business in an ethical manner.
  • This organization treats employees with respect.
  • My pay is fair compared to other healthcare employers in the area.
  • I have confidence in senior management's leadership.
  • Patient safety is a priority in this organization.
  • This organization supports me in balancing my work and personal life.

But the top driver is reflected in the statement, "I feel like I belong in this organization."

This gets to the systemic reason patient experience efforts have failed at many hospitals. Culture fit. And it's a nebulous thing.

The latest HealthLeaders Media Intelligence Report states that 22 percent of leaders say lack of cultural fit or employee buy-in is the biggest obstacle to patient experience management. This is mirrored in The Beryl Institute's patient experience white paper as well.

But according to Beryl's report, we still tackle patient experience from a tactical nature: patient rounding, noise, discharge planning--and these are important, yet...

In my October blog post, I tried to make the case that we need to run organizations from a place of passion and purpose, not from an organizational mindset that polices behaviors.

This makes the HealthLeaders report even more interesting. According to the report, 56 percent of leaders say that compensation should be tied to patient experience performance. Yet only 17 percent of leaders say it should be to their compensation.

How can you ever address culture if only 14 percent of leaders in the HealthLeaders report say that ultimately patient experience rests on their shoulders?!

What we have is a lot of talk about commitment to patient experience but no real actions and solutions to systemic issues. People are hungry for solutions. In a Concerro webcast in August, I outlined some. Take a look. And if you have an interest, our presentation at the Cleveland Clinic patient summit is now available in four video segments.

Anthony Cirillo, FACHE, ABC, is president of Fast Forward Consulting, which specializes in experience management and strategic marketing for healthcare facilities. He is also the expert guide in Assisted Living for About.com.

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