by Rob Love
We have all heard of the Triple Aim of healthcare. Created by the IHI (Institute for Healthcare Improvement), it has been embraced as a guide to optimize healthcare systems. With aging populations and increased longevity, coupled with chronic health problems, new demands are being put on medical and social services. The Triple Aim is now at the center of many initiatives geared toward addressing these issues.
Everyone is familiar now with the three dimensions The Triple Aim pursues simultaneously:
While a powerful target, there is a key focus is missing from the Triple Aim: Clinician satisfaction. Enhancing clinicians’ experience should be a fourth dimension.
The Missing Link to Better Care
In today’s ever-changing healthcare world, home health agencies have become accustomed to evolving their business models to remain compliant, improve care and reduce costs. Focusing on boosting clinician job satisfaction not only benefits the clinician, but also the agency and patients in their care. The business world has long recognized that employees are their life blood, and if home health agencies can adopt this mentality, better care will come naturally.
One of the pioneers of this concept, Herb Keller of Southwest airlines, set an unprecedented example when he proclaimed that the people in an organization are more important than the customers. If your people are happy, they are much more likely to make your customers happy, he argued. It was a novel concept at the time, but Keller’s method of management is now widely adopted at top companies, but not often in healthcare.
The nursing force in every healthcare institution defines the success of the company, and is the “face” of the agency or institution in the eyes of the patient. During a time when the home care industry is the highest growth occupation, and as agencies are soon to be asked to achieve the Triple Aim through value-based purchasing, one could argue that nurses are more responsible for the patient-satisfaction component than ever before.
Plus, high turnover rates are costly because of recruiting and training time and costs. If home health agencies can reconsider the value of their clinicians, and put strategies in place to increase job satisfaction and retention, better care will naturally result.
Strategies for Increasing Clinical Satisfaction
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for increasing clinician satisfaction. However, there are standards that can be customized to fit the unique business model and culture of any home health agency. Below are some strategies to consider (These are adapted from a presentation delivered at the National Association for Home Care & Hospice’s 2016 Annual Meeting by Sharon Brothers of Institute for Professional Care Education):
Better for Agencies too?
Targeting clinical satisfaction will position your agency for Value-Based Purchasing, increasing your likelihood of success under this model. However, high clinical satisfaction will reduce turnover as well, driving costs lower. With fewer resources dedicated to onboarding new clinicians, your HR costs go lower and your average experience level goes up. It is the very definition of "win-win".
The gap that is left is measurement of satisfaction. I suggest that it become an initiative for your agency in 2017. It begins by measuring a baseline of current satisfaction and then creating targets. I suggest a simple tool like Survey Monkey to survey your employees. If you want to be more elaborate and automated, a tool like MoodMap might be the best choice.
If you survey your entire agency, make sure you create a way to measure clinicians separately. You might consider segmenting your clinicians further, as factors affecting nurses is likely different than therapists and aides.
The creator of the Triple Aim, IHI, believes everyone should get the best care and achieve the best health possible. If we as providers add Clinician Satisfaction as a Fourth Target of the Triple Aim, we will have a model that can drive healthcare into the future that will meet the IHI vision.
Rob Love is a Senior Account Executive for DeVero, a provider of EMR software systems for home health agencies and hospices. He has made available a longer version of this article, including more tips to increase clinician satisfaction, in a white paper on the DeVero web site.
©2016 by Rowan Consulting Associates, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO. All rights reserved. This article originally appeared in Tim Rowan's Home Care Technology Report. homecaretechreport.com The author has given permission for it to be freely copied, provided no changes are made, including this copyright notice. firstname.lastname@example.org