Deploy a Dedicated Project Manager
By: Carolyn Hardy, Regional Manager, Catalyst Learning
What's the point? That's what you're wondering if you're anything like me - a skimmer. Well, I'll give you the gist; this is not about a quick fix to turn around your engagement scores or a miracle new process that promises to be the magic bullet for retention or patient satisfaction. This post is about a multi-year journey with an organization that placed a premium on culture and used accountability to take their place as employer of choice in the community. This is about the hard work and the metrics that prove the link between employee retention, investment and operational efficiency.
Rhonda is already talking as I enter the room, on this last day at the ASHHRA 2013 Conference. I begin to tune in to Rhonda's clear, strong voice.
"The focus is here: to make every employee feel that they are part of what we do, no matter if they are a nurse, a doctor, a housekeeper, a parking valet. Connecting is what we need to do, regardless of our industry."
We're listening to Rhonda Larimore, Vice President of Human Resources and Support Services at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh (UPMC). She's an excellent speaker and we're all here to see what we can learn about "The Business Case for Employee Investment". Much of Rhonda's message can be summed up by what must be an easily recognizable state to us all; regarding the role of HR, she says, "There's two kinds of HR departments - ones that do the paperwork and ones that do the vision work."
Listeners are introduced to a series of areas that Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh identified for improvement in 2006 when Rhonda came on board. From annual turnover to patient satisfaction, from a lack of vision in learning and OD to a need to focus on values in daily practice, we got a pretty clear picture - Rhonda wanted to take it back to the drawing board.
So how did they do it? She shared CHP's strategic plan:
Of this plan Rhonda tells us, "It's about packaging it so that people see not just the ones-ies and twos-ies of what we do but the whole picture." She is speaking of the leadership in the organization as well as the employees who report to them. Getting an organization of that size on board with this kind of change can't have been easy and she relied on support from other leadership and a values-based approach on which everyone could agree.
As this story winds up, I'll highlight a couple of stories from items 1 and 3 in the strategic plan.
CHP wanted to hire talent whose values closely matched that of the organization. Enter Ted Kinney, Ph.D. and Director of Research and Development for Select International. These two formed a partnership and implemented a standardized hiring process and assessment. Hands flew up as Rhonda spoke of their success, their measures and their processes. In the end, everyone was quiet and you knew they'd been impressed by the staggering lack of complications or issues with the new process. Ted was present to answer questions and he had rapt attention from the audience; this guy was about to become very popular.
Since Catalyst Learning is a workforce development organization, I promised to address workforce development and here it is.
Learning & OD - 'How can I focus on MY career?'
Again our speaker describes a dichotomy positing that there are two types of employees:
1) those who want to grow their career,
2) those who want to be the best at who they are in their current role.
Either way, Children's of Pittsburgh focused on the growth of their employees by providing a continuing education fund for those that want to attend a conference or other learning opportunity. For loyal employees who want to stay in same position, the organization still challenges them to improve in that role every year.
CHP provides online learning opportunities, leverages leadership and mentorship programs in which over 1000 people participate each year.
Ted brought this all home by stating that, "Hospitals need highly skilled employees and Patient Satisfaction is still relatively new to the industry." He spoke of combining "top-down" and "bottom-up" approaches, identifying specific behaviors that drive outcomes, and building accountability through better staff communication which correlates with patient safety.
So, here is your challenge - where are you as an HR or OD professional doing "The Vision Work"? We're all being targeted for improvement these days. I hope this post has inspired you in some way to take things to the next level, whatever your role in your organization.
The duties of Patient Service Reps (PSRs) can have a powerful impact on patient experience and operational effectiveness. This entry level position is often the first point of face-to-face contact for patients. PSRs are not only responsible for being sensitive to the emotional needs of the patient, they also maintain electronic medical records, collect/verify insurance and referral information, and manage the "patient flow" of the waiting area.
Aimed at culture change around PSRs, the award-winning Penn Medicine in Philadelphia set out to professionalize this role by designing and implementing the Patient Service Excellence Academy (learn more here).
Frances Graham, Director Workforce Development at Penn Medicine, led the design of the curriculum. With a multi-team approach, Penn Medicine uses...DOWNLOAD THE STUDY
Interested in the Accelerated Performance Series?
HR leaders at a northern California Medical Center created an Administrative Assistant Academy (AAA) for all Admins, Hospital Unit Service Coordinators (HUSC), Medical Office Service Coordinators (MOSC), as well as employees interested in transitioning to an administrative role. These vital, entry level workers are often the first line of contact for a patient or family and can directly impact patient flow.
“There’s a lot of competition in this region for entry-level employees, so we started to look at how to better retain talent at EAMC,” said Karen Gresham, RN, director of education services. “Our frontline employees wanted opportunities for development and promotions, and we realized we had a gap in what we offered at the entry level.”
In 2005, EAMC began offering Catalyst Learning’s School at Work (SAW), a career development program for entry-level healthcare associates, to frontline employees to help them advance within the organization through clinical or administrative positions. Today, more than 130 employees have graduated from the program and more than half of those employees have been promoted. Ten percent of SAW students have gone on to earn a college degree.
In the beginning, Gresham admits, some managers were hesitant to recommend employees for SAW because they didn’t want to see talented employees leave their departments. That way of thinking, however, has shifted as managers experience firsthand the positive effect SAW has on employees as they develop skills in areas like medical terminology, soft skills and math.
“Employees are more confident, more engaged and they are speaking up,” said Gresham. “They are making a difference in their departments.”
The focus is now on EAMC’s mission for high quality, compassionate care, and the opportunity for SAW participants to grow into roles where they are providing better care for patients. Many SAW participants move into positions where they are interacting with patients and families, and they are expected to be good examples for compassionate customer service.
SAW graduates also have personal development plans with clear goals for what they want to accomplish. Managers recognize SAW graduates for more than just their job title. They are career-oriented employees who have computer skills, as well as important soft skills such as the ability to handle conflict and difficult situations.
EAMC has taken its commitment to entry-level employees a step further with a strong focus on “what’s next?” for SAW graduates. Will the employee go to school on a scholarship or with tuition reimbursement? How will the employee grow in his or her current role? Additionally, all SAW graduates go through EAMC’s internal financial university to learn how to manage their personal finances.
Building on their success, leadership development programs expand to frontline nurses
These high standards are the result of carrying out EAMC’s mission to deliver the best possible care, but much like EAMC’s experience with entry-level employees, the organization’s robust leadership development program wasn’t reaching frontline nurses or addressing the development needs of nurse managers and charge nurses.
Given their success with SAW, EAMC again turned to Catalyst Learning for a solution. Catalyst had recently launched NCharge, an evidence-based curriculum that gives first level supervisory nurses the skills they need to more effectively lead. The program was in line with EAMC’s leadership development and succession planning goals. NCharge is now a part of EAMC’s official succession plan.
“I just loved the program [NCharge] right away. It spoke to me as a nurse,” said Rosemary Cummings, director of medical surgical services. “When I started as a labor and delivery nurse, I was put in charge after being on the floor for three months or so. If I’d had some of this info, I could have done more with that position. So, I understood what we were lacking, not having anything for those supervisors.”
Recognizing the importance of having experience in a nurse leadership role, EAMC decided to have nurse managers like Cummings deliver the NCharge content. Each nurse manager is paired with an educator who can help deliver the curriculum. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
As with SAW, the success of NCharge is dependent on buy-in from managers and their willingness to allow frontline staff time away from their regular duties to complete the program. Once managers learned the objectives and how a leadership program developed specifically for nurses could make a difference, they were on board. This year, EAMC will also offer NCharge to managers to give them a firsthand understanding of what NCharge participants are learning.
EAMC is focused on results and a return on their investment. Two groups of 20 nurses have gone through the program and checkpoints are now in place to see if the nurses are using the skills they are learning.
Managers are seeing improved engagement and confidence among nurses and a positive change in communication with physicians and other employees. One participant shared with Cummings that she uses different parts of NCharge every day, for example finance and value-based purchasing skills that are typically learned on the job. Two nurses who have completed the program have been promoted to managers.
EAMC’s long-term goal for its nurse leadership development program is sustainability. Cummings and other instructors are planning lunch-and-learns with the two groups who have gone through NCharge to discuss how they are leveraging their new skills and which tools are most effective. The lunches will also be an opportunity for participants who formed a bond completing the program together to reconnect.
“We are not part of a big organization, but we offer quality healthcare here. We take a lot of pride in how we do things from a quality and cost perspective,” said Cummings. “It helps our frontline supervisors to see we’re investing in them. Development at this organization is an important piece of who we are. I think that’s why people stay.”