By Lyndsey Lord
Every healthcare provider wants to retain its best employees – the employees who deliver exceptional patient care and differentiate themselves from competitors. However, combatting turnover is no easy feat, especially as the home health industry continues to face regulatory and reimbursement changes.
Recently a group of industry leaders from across the country traveled to NYC to attend CipherHealth’s post-acute care roundtable, and a staggering statistic became a focal point of the conversation – the home care industry has experienced a 65.7% turnover rate.
The adverse effects of high turnover are apparent: loss of productivity and knowledge, leading to increased workload for other team members, decreased patient satisfaction, and lower quality outcomes. Everyone understands that turnover disrupts workflows and is costly to an agency, but no one is more affected than the patient.
A “revolving door” of in-home clinicians can negatively affect the quality of care patients receive as well as their overall experience. Patients grow to trust their care team and depend on them daily; constant change disrupts their journey to a successful recovery.
During the round table, home care leaders discussed that there are three things to keep in mind as agencies address the issue of employee turnover: understand the cause of burnout, take action upon employee feedback, and consider creative approaches to attract providers from other areas in healthcare.
What is Causing Employee Burnout?
While burnout is a threat to healthcare workers in general, the home health industry faces unique stressors that can cause frustration for even the most enthusiastic caregiver. With more patients looking for care at home, there is increased pressure to see more patients each day. Adding more patients means caregivers are asked to accomplish more care coordination tasks as well, such as patient outreach, administration work, and documentation. All of these tasks lead to extended hours and can cause staff members to burn out quicker. While caregivers strive to maximize their time with each patient, these changes greatly diminish the length of each visit.
Implementing technology that streamlines processes is critical to reducing burnout while managing increased demand across the industry. When employees are not overworked and overburdened, they feel supported by their agency and are more satisfied. This satisfaction, in turn influences employee retention; clinicians who feel supported are happier and more likely to stay in jobs longer. Technology supported initiatives like automated outreach and enhanced workflows can go a long way to ensure staff members are working at the top of their license level. The implementation of technology into staff workflows help save time on manual tasks such as calling patients to check in between home visits.
Measuring Staff Satisfaction as New Processes are Implemented
To truly improve the staff experience, leaders need to discover and act upon their employees’ pain points. To resolve problems, agency leaders first have to gather feedback. When leaders proactively seek feedback to drive systemic agency improvements employees feel more engaged and valued.
One solution leaders discussed was to use digital surveys to anonymously solicit staff feedback and find out what is important to them. An anonymous employee survey helps remove the fear of retaliation and allows them to be more honest and open. However, more importantly, agencies must respond constructively to the feedback to drive improvements with staff.
5-Star rated home health agency, Well Care Health, President and COO, Wanda Coley, advises organizations “If you are going to measure employee engagement, do something about it. If you are not going to do something about it, do not measure it.”
Attracting Millennials to Home Health Agency Staff
As home health leaders look to retain employees, they must also think of attracting new ones. This means finding and hiring employees that are part of the millennial generation – a particularly challenging demographic for HHAs. As millennials push for great company cultures and new types of work benefits, HHA’s should understand the needs of this tech-driven workforce.
CipherHealth’s Senior Account Strategist, Matt Danilo expressed, “Millennials are the first generation to grow up in the digital age, which has developed the capabilities to learn and utilize new technology. If agencies want to recruit and retain millennials, they should integrate technology into their daily workflows.”
This critical insight combines the importance of technology concerning a new workforce. As HHAs recruit nurses, they compete with top hospitals and healthcare organizations that have already embraced technology and integrated solutions into their daily workflows.
Recruit and Retain
Home health agencies have a lot to focus on in 2018, but it all starts with building a team of quality staff. Low employee satisfaction and high turnover negatively affect the care delivered, leading to consequences that impact an agency’s most important stakeholders – patients.
It is no secret that the home health industry is lagging behind in a technology-driven world; other industries have embraced technology and integrated solutions into daily workflows. By adopting technology, agencies can create new efficiencies with their staff’s day-to-day processes, improve staff satisfaction by eliminating manual tasks, and attract the next generation of leaders (millennials).
In an industry where decisions have a significant impact on people’s quality of life, it is essential that the frontline care team is happy and consistent with care provided. Hiring the best healthcare employees is only half the battle – once you have them, you need to keep them – and technology is key.
As the Vice President of Clinical Services for CipherHealth, Lyndsey Lord, MBA, BSN, RN brings over 15 years of experience in clinical practice, healthcare operations, case management, patient throughput, and healthcare IT strategy to her current role at CipherHealth. Prior to joining CipherHealth, Lyndsey worked with healthcare providers to implement alternative payment models, such as BPCI, and supported clinical care redesign efforts to promote success within value-based healthcare programs. Lyndsey is passionate about leveraging technology and data to assist providers in delivering high-quality, low-cost care.