UPMC Focuses on Culture To Accelerate Growth

  • Publication: Huron | Studer Group
  • Release Date: June 11, 2019

UPMC recognized that in order to drive organizational success in the future they could not focus solely on operational improvements; they had to transform their culture. As a result, they embarked on the UPMC Experience to increase employee engagement and retention and improve the experience for their consumers.


As one of the most innovative healthcare organizations in the nation, UPMC wanted to accelerate their growth plan. Their leaders recognized that while they were already a great organization, they could elevate their consumer experience in order to create consumers for life. At the same time, they sought to improve their employee experience in order to attract and retain top talent.


UPMC and Huron’s Studer Group business collaborated to create a foundation that would enable cultural transformation. To do so they:

  • Created a structure for change. Organization-wide change was supported by the board of directors and system leadership which highlighted the importance of the transformation to leaders.
  • Messaged and modeled behavior change from the top down. The team branded their employee and consumer experience as the UPMC Experience and developed messaging around their cultural transformation. This message was not only communicated by senior leaders — leaders modeled the behaviors they were asking employees to demonstrate.
  • Aligned goals to culture change. Senior leadership focused on the employee and consumer experience by aligning 80 percent of their goals to employees and consumers while 20 percent aligned to financial performance and quality metrics. Incentives aligned to employee engagement and HCAHPS scores.
  • Created a sense of accountability. Based on goals leaders were given, they had a clear sense of what was being asked of them. They were also equipped with training to execute against these goals.
  • Conducted leadership training. Executive leaders committed to bringing 1,500 UPMC leaders together on a quarterly basis for leadership training aligned to organizational priorities. The sessions served as an opportunity for transformation buy-in by providing consistency in communication, explaining the “why” behind changes and skill building to close the gap in performance.
  • Coached high-priority leaders. Coaching sessions helped leaders achieve their goals and model the behaviors they were asked to perform.
  • Created mechanism to capture care team feedback. Leaders gained a better understanding of the challenges employees and providers encountered by gathering feedback from them; the ultimate goal of the feedback was to create a better employee experience.
  • Met employees’ desires for change. UPMC elevated employee feedback to drive positive change across all UPMC hospitals. Concerns from leaders about resistance to change were eased as it became evident that, with commitment from leadership, employees embraced the UPMC Experience which resulted in better execution, driving rapid and significant improvements in employee satisfaction followed by improvements in patience experience.


9% increase in nursing engagement score at the 787-bed, flagship hospital, UPMC-Presbyterian

5% improvement in employee engagement among 30,000 employees

Advanced overall 9 or 10 HCAHPS rating by 24 national percentile points, moving from the 28th to 52nd percentile

UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider. The system combines clinical research excellence with business-like discipline to provide high-quality care at their more than 30 hospitals and 700 physician offices and outpatient sites.

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