Perhaps the biggest single impetus for expanding the strategic role of healthcare HR will come from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS), which attaches cold, hard cash to the once-fuzzy term "patient satisfaction."
"HCAHPS will go a long way in changing attitudes," says Michael DiPietro, with HealthcareSource, which has created a brief survey for ASHHRA that address the strategic role of healthcare HR. "Now there is transparency. Now there is so much more focus on patient satisfaction and quality outcomes. Patient satisfaction is directly impacted by the competencies and behaviors of employees. That is a key driver. As CEOs get more pressure to improve HCAHPS scores, there are certain things you can do on the clinical side, but they are going to turn to the VP of HR and say 'you need to help solve this.'"
The ASHHRA survey asks healthcare HR executives what they're doing in three strategic areas -- patient safety, patient satisfaction, cost containment -- and what technologies they're using to support initiatives in these areas.
"We are always trying to figure out what is the connection between talent management or the role of HR as it links to quality and patient safety, and where we fall in," Drake says. "We have a variety of groups working in hospitals and in the pursuit of excellent and quality and patient safety roles, but we struggle as a professional society to figure out where we fit in. This study will help us find more linkages."
If you've got a few minutes, take the survey. It provides an opportunity to assess where you are as an HR executive, and what your strategic role will be for your healthcare organization. You'd better prepare, because HR is going strategic, with or without you.