Posted January 10, 2017

Engagement Ideas and Insights from Leading Healthcare Organizations

This second installment of our 7-part series on What's Right in Health Care® 2016 includes a list of high-performing healthcare organizations featured at the conference that are using engagement strategies and tactics to drive performance improvement. Part 1 provided a conference overview and Part 3 will look at the challenging and rapidly emerging area of high reliability in healthcare.

The theme of engagement wasn't conceived initially by conference organizers. It emerged organically as an obvious and unavoidable conference theme because it was highlighted repeatedly in the stories of high-performing organizations. Some examples from organizations featured at the conference include:

  • Lafayette General Health System, Lafayette, Louisiana, is maintaining engagement ratings at or near 90 percent and posting major gains in indicators of patient satisfaction, quality and growth. David Callecod, president and CEO and Marisa Alack, vice president, described how the design and implementation of key performance evaluation and validation tools was turned over to staff "and that's when the magic started to happen".

  • Columbus Community Hospital (CCH), Columbus, Nebraska, is one of just 117 U.S. hospitals that have achieved top-performer distinction from The Joint Commission for five consecutive years. A team of CCH leaders explained how they have implemented a full spectrum of evidence-based tactics. They see their people as "their greatest asset", and suggest that "if you take care of your people, they will take care of your patients".

  • Since 2007 Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre in Barrie, Ontario, has been the site of a workplace transformation - from low employee satisfaction, morale, and trust, to a "culture of engagement", where employees and physicians want to do their best work, are informed and accountable, and live the organization's mission, vision and values.

The evidence demonstrates that engagement works. Engagement drives and sustains improvement, and enables a culture of accountability.

Several speakers at What's Right in Health Care 2016 described effective engagement methods they are using in daily practice:

  • Rex Budde, president and CEO of Southern Illinois Health Care, described communication tools aimed at helping staff manage an aggressive program of cost reduction and organizational improvement. His organization learned the value of more personal face-to-face communications, transparency, sensitivity to staff concerns, taking time to let messages "soak in", and making sure employees understand the need for change.

  • Liz Link, director of internal communications, Seton Healthcare Family, Austin, Texas, explained how innovative Virtual Town Halls are being used to reach 14,000 people over a large and diverse organization. The quarterly videos are a key output of Leadership Development Institutes, another vital tool, and linked directly to the organizational goals. They foster a supportive community, create operational alignment, increase engagement, reinforce accountability and "cut through the clutter".

  • Jennifer O'Neill, vice president and chief nursing officer, Saint Barnabas Medical Center, Livingston, New Jersey, described how daily skills labs and consistent validation have enabled her team to build nursing leadership capabilities that are now driving results. She emphasized resisting the temptation to do everything at once, while staying focused on key goals; "If you are relentless in the pursuit of excellence you will get there."

  • Matthew Brice, coach and speaker, Studer Group Australasia, provided an international perspective on engagement during a 10 Minutes that Count session. He used his diverse global background in nursing to demonstrate how we all need to be engaged to feel a sense of belonging, trust and safety - the foundations of performance. He believes that "all of the technical proficiency in the world doesn't matter if it can't be brought together in the context of teams."

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