In a value-based setting, where quality of care metrics influence financial incentives, patient satisfaction has become a top priority at health systems across the country. Often measured based on survey scores (HCAHPS), patient satisfaction can have a direct impact on the bottom line. As such, achieving high marks has become a focus for health systems everywhere. According to a 2014 HealthLeaders survey, more than half of healthcare executives say patient experience and satisfaction is one of their top three priorities.1
As healthcare workers who work most closely with patients, nurses are healthcare providers’ biggest strength in achieving positive patient satisfaction. However, this critical group is facing the most shortage in available staff, high dropout rates and the lowest satisfaction among hospital employees. Why?
Nursing is tough. Working closely with sick patients, worried families and stressed doctors can take its toll, and nurses juggle it all. They work long hours, often starting a shift when it is dark and leaving when it is dark again. Nurses also spend the majority of their shift on their feet and are expected to lift heavy loads. Eight in 10 nurses say muscle and joint pain is a frequent occurrence2 and some nurses even experience compassion fatigue. A form of burnout that can affect people who work in the healthcare industry, compassion fatigue can have a negative impact on the quality of care a nurse delivers. Dissatisfaction with work schedules feeling overworked, and lack of independence are other factors that play a role in creating an unhappy workforce.
It doesn’t take much to see that nurse satisfaction is tightly linked to patient satisfaction. Happier nurses make fewer mistakes and produce better overall outcomes. In the New York Times Bestselling book “Patients Come Second,” the authors point out that patients are customers looking for an exceptional experience that balances cost, quality and service, and it will be the employees that deliver on those expectations.
Patients today have a greater choice where they spend their health care dollars, which means hospitals have to compete for business with their peers. The hospitals that have made it a priority to invest in the workforce will come out on top. For every 10% of nurses who report dissatisfaction with their job, patient recommendations to that hospital decrease by 2%.3
Technology can lead the way in creating an employee-focused workplace. By implementing systems that support a positive work environment, including self-scheduling, improved productivity, and data-driven staffing, organizations can help improve employee satisfaction. This will ultimately lead to better patient outcomes and greater HCAHPS scores, which translates into greater reimbursement incentives.
When hospitals and nurses work together to leverage their biggest strength – their nurses – bridging the gap on patient satisfaction is much easier to accomplish.
1Rice, Chelsea. “5 Ways to Raise HCAHPS Scores via Staff Engagement.” HealthLeaders Media Insider, November 2014
2Nursing World. “2011 ANA Health & Safety Survey Hazards of the RN Work Environment.” Accessed May 13, 2015. http://nursingworld.org/FunctionalMenuCategories/MediaResources/MediaBackgrounders/The-Nurse-Work-Environment-2011-Health-Safety-Survey.pdf
3Health Affairs “Nurses’ Widespread Job Dissatisfaction, Burnout, & Frustration with Health Benefits Signal Problems for Patient Care.”
API Healthcare recently sponsored a Becker’s Hospital Review research initiative that surveyed 95 healthcare executives about their workforce management strategy.
The results revealed a large gap between strategy and practice. Workforce management is a priority for the vast majority of healthcare executives, and staff satisfaction was cited as the workforce management tactic that has the biggest impact on patient satisfaction.
Here’s where the gap shows up – only 19% of respondents are using workforce technology to enable their staff satisfaction tactics.
Taking a forward-thinking approach, Terrebonne General Medical Center (TGMC) in Louisiana is leveraging technology to make the critical connection between strategy and practice. TGMC is committed to empowering staff with access to their own personnel information, including human resources data, online benefits enrollment and staff schedules.
Their strategy is summed up by Mickie Rousseau, Director of Human Resources at TGMC, “From the very beginning, our goal was to find a comprehensive solution that would benefit our entire organization. By having the full suite of API Healthcare products that talk to each other, we’ve made information easier to manage and more accessible to employees and key decision-makers. Now, our entire organization is doing a better job of managing our most costly and most important resources – our staff.”
To learn more about TGMC’s story, including how their vulnerability to being hit by hurricanes has impacted their strategy, take a look at their complete case study.