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Engagement a Key Theme at ASHHRA Convention

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, September 19, 2011

If one word encapsulates the focus of last week's American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration annual convention, that word is "engagement."

Employee engagement; physician engagement; patient engagement; leadership engagement: The four-day ASHHRA convention in Phoenix, AZ saw more talk of engagement than the Viva Las Vegas Chapel on Valentine's Day.

"Engagement is critical because it helps you utilize your best resource," says Ann M. Torkelson, Human Resources Director at Mayo Clinic, and an ASHHRA seminar leader. "An engaged workforce is going to produce. You are going to have better patient satisfaction, better outcomes, even with less," she says.

For years, progressive healthcare organizations, like Mayo, have prided themselves on employee engagement and mission "buy-in" as the right thing to do.

Practically speaking, however, the bottom-line case for engagement clearly has been bolstered by two big-dollar issues: First, engaged employees are less likely to quit, and that greatly reduces budget-busting turnover costs associated with recruiting and training new workers.

Secondly, there is an understanding that patient satisfaction scores under the healthcare reform law will soon be linked to reimbursements. Engaged employees care about patient satisfaction, and that empathy will be reflected in higher reimbursements. 

"All those soft pieces of your customers' experiences come from that engagement. If your staff is willing to go above and beyond, whether it is an internal customer, a patient, a physician, whoever, you are going to get a lot more value," Torkelson says.

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1 comments on "Engagement a Key Theme at ASHHRA Convention"


stephen.mcclure (9/20/2011 at 2:19 PM)
To follow up on your statements about the importance of employee engagement to HCAHPS, HealthStream recently analyzed data that demonstrated this conclusion. Of nearly 250 client hospitals, all of which utilize HealthStream for patient satisfaction (HCAHPS), employee satisfaction, and physician satisfaction research, employee satisfaction was clearly shown to impact patient satisfaction. As employee satisfaction/loyalty increased, so did HCAHPS scores. The study also revealed two other predictors which were meaningful. It discovered that as HCAHPS scores increased, employee ratings of administration decreased. This interesting finding appears to indicate that hospital leaders who push forward with behavioral changes necessary to improve their hospitals' HCAHPS scores may find that their ranking with employees could decline. Physician ratings of nursing skill, the third variable, were also found to be a significant predictor of HCAHPS scores.