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Smiling staff means a healthier hospital

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  By Phil Colpas, Editor, August 21, 2012

We’ve all heard the mantra: Keep your employees happy, and you’ll see positive results via increased productivity, ideas that are more creative and an ownership-of-product mentality, regardless of what that product might be. The same is true for healthcare; a key difference being there are few – if any – lines of work where more people’s lives are directly dependent on the quality of the job done. After all, a disgruntled and depressed hospital employee’s cavalier carelessness could – quite literally – get someone killed.

According to a study by the business thought leadership organization The Forum: Business Results Through People (www.BusinessResultsThroughPeople.org), “Delivering better customer experiences starts with developing satisfied employees.” And in healthcare, the patients are the customers.

In the report, “The Value of Achieving Organizational Health,” designed for C-suite executives, researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Wisconsin say creating engaged employees increases both employee productivity and customer satisfaction.

One of the study’s authors, Forum Academic Director Dr. Frank Mulhern of Northwestern University, says, “In the healthcare industry, as in other service-related businesses, having engaged, empowered, loyal employees can lead to increased retention, lower costs, enhanced reputation and a profitable business picture.”

Therefore, in order to be successful, hospital C-suiters should cultivate an environment that encourages employees to feel a part of and actively engage in the processes of patient care and meaningful-use compliance – and all that entails.

Easier said than done, of course; but the report does have some specific advice for creating such an atmosphere:

  • Establish clear lines of communication;
  • Survey employees;
  • Develop a culture that is a mix of cooperation and competition; and
  • Elevate engagement with a formal employee recognition program.

The message for healthcare IT? No matter how much technology might be at a hospital’s disposal, its greatest asset remains its people – and the only thing that really matters is the care of its patients.


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