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Employee Engagement and the Patient Experience

Going to the hospital is almost never a pleasant experience. You’re there because you’re sick and in need of care, or supporting someone else who is. Either way, it’s a time when you need comfort, support, compassion, and kindness. No matter how skilled the clinical care you receive or how well the treatments work, if these human elements are not present you will likely not feel quick to recommend the hospital to a friend or family member.

Being that the average doctor spends only about eight minutes per day with each patient, the other hospital employees are the ones who comprise the majority of the patient experience. That means the interactions you have with administrative workers, nurses, pharmacy staff, and even physical plant workers are crucial to your perception of your stay. And these perceptions will end up driving all-important HCAHPS results, word-of-mouth referrals, and online reviews on sites such as Yelp and Google.

The best way to ensure that your patients have positive experiences is to take care of your employees first. Engaged employees are personally and emotionally invested in doing their jobs well. They will go beyond simply showing up on time and performing satisfactorily.

As a hospital administrator, how can you ensure that every employee in the hospital is engaged and dedicated to providing the best experience?

  1. Outline expectations clearly. Have a set of core values that guide the behavior of all hospital workers, whether their jobs are clinical or not.
  2. Ensure that senior management is the driver of this initiative. Leaders should be visible, communicate often, and live the organization’s values every day to set a good example.
  3. Ask managers to review the core values with their employees and clearly discuss the types of behaviors that exemplify them.
  4. Ask for feedback from employees on areas where policies, procedures, or equipment need to be changed in order to deliver the best service. (And act on it!)
  5. Implement a program to recognize and reward the actions that support your core values and the goals you have for patient experience.
  6. Evaluate your performance constantly through patient feedback mechanisms.

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