When healthcare organizations say their goal is to put “patients first” they sound like a restaurant saying their goal is to serve “great food”. It feels so obvious that we’re not sure why it needs to be said. But the reason is simple and here’s why — putting patients first requires creating a cultural environment that embraces three key factors: internal service cooperation, employee recognition, and employee enablement.
- Unleash internal service cooperation. In order to improve patient service, it’s critically important that all caregivers in all disciplines create great internal service. Clear communication, fast and responsive service to each other will enable the caregivers to provide the best patient experience possible. Rewarding and recognizing great internal service cooperation will sustain and support a patient’s first philosophy.
- Effectively recognize and reward caregivers for exceptional performance. Start by treating caregivers the many ways they would want to be treated which means personalizing rewards and acknowledgment. Every caregiver is different, so it is important to offer a variety of reward options that make sense for their lifestyles. Some may seek fast redemption rewards like music downloads or restaurant and theater gift cards, while other caregivers may prefer accumulating points for larger options such as travel, vacation, and events. Just as important, is focusing on non-monetary rewards with authentic acknowledgment, such as recognizing them in front of their peers at a team meeting, or simply looking them in the eye, using their name, and saying, “thank you.” By recognizing their exceptional service and achievements, caregivers feel visible and valued which will boost morale and increase motivation and energy.
- Enable your caregivers by removing obstacles. This means a full-scale review of your policies. Do you allow caregivers to make up time, or if they are admin staff are they ever permitted telework days? How about skill-set development? No one wants to feel stuck or invisible. When you provide your caregivers with growth through training and continuing education – you make them more marketable, allowing them to feel energized and engaged to better serve your patients. Your investment in your caregivers, through a positive uplifting environment and career development, will return tenfold in your caregiver retention and patient experience.
Using the above 3 components, we at CSI International worked in partnership with one of the largest healthcare institutions. We met with HR execs, recognition, and organizational development teams, to design and implement a caregiver engagement program by training 4000 managers and physicians. This initiative led to a dramatic increase in both the levels of utilization and participation in the recognition and employee engagement process. The results were reflected in performance and behavior which included increased caregiver attendance, caregiver retention, and quality control and cost containment. Additionally, a caregiver opinion survey shows that engagement levels increased by 8% and patient satisfaction has increased by 23%. To date, the program continues to grow and has become a key component of the organization’s approach to ensuring caregivers’ well-being and a Patients First culture.
Enabled caregivers have energy and motivation to create exceptional experiences internally with their team members. They will also be brand ambassadors and net promoters for your organization. Remember, your customers can feel whatever is going on inside of your organization. When you create exceptional experiences internally for your caregivers, they can create exceptional experiences for your patients and focus on creating a Patient’s First culture.
Pete Psichogios is President of CSI International Performance Group whose mission is to help companies create engaging employee and customer experiences. He has been fortunate to work with the who’s who of the Fortune 500 and many of the world’s fastest growing companies, helping them deliver innovative learning, engagement, and recognition solutions. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org