Valerie Layden, MSN, director, Patient Services & Operations, and her colleagues in Obstetrics & Gynecology share, a belief. “When we create a great environment in which to work, we create a great environment for patients to receive care.”
It’s a sentiment that is shared by the organization at large. At Penn Medicine, we recognize that our ability to deliver world-class care to patients and their families is a direct result of the talent and dedication of the people who work here. And so we invest in tools that can help us improve the overall staff experience and strengthen Penn Medicine’s position as a great place to work and a great place for patients to receive care.
Most recently we partnered with the Advisory Board, a global consulting firm that helps health-care organizations serve their patients better. We were interested in finding out how engaged our staff feel. In other words, to what degree do they think of themselves as involved in and enthusiastic about their jobs and Penn Medicine in general?
We used a web-based Employee Engagement Survey to find out. Key goals of the questionnaire, which was administered at the end of last year, were to assess and build on our strengths and identify areas that needed improving.
The response rate for this voluntary employee engagement survey was outstanding. More than 13,000 employees, or 85% of the targeted participants from UPHS and the Perelman School of Medicine, completed the survey. Every entity surpassed an 80% participation rate. Overall, our results were very encouraging. Forty-four percent of Penn Medicine staff can be classified as “highly engaged,” compared to 35 percent in comparable organizations nationwide. At the point of care, we also scored above the national benchmark, with nurses and clinical directors registering well above average. Physician assistants and nurse practitioners scored a full 27 percent above the norm.
For Layden and her team, the survey results provided unique insights into the department’s strengths and highlighted opportunities for improvement. Through a collaborative process that included department leadership and staff at all levels, they identified one or two areas for improvement. “We asked ourselves four questions when deciding where to focus,” said Layden. “Is this focus within our span of control? Is it important to our entire group as a whole? Do we have the resources to make an impact in this area? And can we get results in three months or less?”
Sharing Responsibilities Leads to Success
Susan Niskey Popp, MBA/MS, Dermatology’s chief operating officer, similarly emphasized a team approach to solve problems. Their survey results highlighted a need to improve communications between staff and managers, and in particular improve how ‘bad news’ was delivered. Since receiving its survey results, the staff have implemented a meeting that has been held each week, without exception. “At first, there were some staff members who felt it was strictly leadership’s responsibility to fix problems illuminated in the survey,” said Niskey-Popp. “But it’s all of our responsibilities. It’s our action plan. We own this environment. We own this team. Since the start of this process, we’ve seen a healthy shift, where each person is now recognizing our shared responsibilities in helping our team become stronger.”
These experiences are similar to the ones that each department is currently going through as part of their Action-Planning processes. According to Kristi Pintar, corporate director of Organizational Development and Leadership Practice, the action planning process begins with employees reviewing the survey results and analyzing those results to better understand what the data mean. “The survey results give us our baseline quantitative data. Subsequent conversations with work teams give us that extra understanding of strengths and opportunities for improvement,” she said.
Managers follow a process of leading these conversations, gathering additional information, prioritizing the issues, identifying root causes of the issues and then brainstorming possible actions for improvement. “The action planning process is the key to continuous improvement. It's designed to be repeated as improvements are made and new opportunities are identified.”
How Can You Engage?
Penn Medicine offers several ways employees can help improve patient – and staff – experiences. For example, you can help shape the future of Penn Medicine by visiting http://www.med.upenn.edu/strategy/. Learn about Penn Medicine’s planning efforts and contribute to the Penn Medicine strategy blog. Or visit “The Square, ” the vehicle for employees to connect with their colleagues from all across Penn Medicine, and to discuss the things they care about. Participation is voluntary, and membership on the site has more than tripled since the launch late last year. To join, visit www.pennmedicine.org/TheSquare.
Some employees have contributed by participating in the Penn Medicine Academy’s “Performance Improvement in Action” program. PIIA teams consist of interdisciplinary front-line providers working on projects that have been identified as critical to, and in alignment with, the Blueprint for Quality and Patient Safety. PIIA teams learn performance improvement methodologies such as GE LEAN®, Six Sigma® and PDCA to implement, evaluate, and measure processes and safety outcomes. (To learn more about Performance Improvement in Action, email email@example.com.
Others submitted ideas to Penn Medicine’s first annual Innovation Tournament, “Your Big Idea. ” Faculty and staff from throughout the Health System submitted over 1700 ideas for improving the patient experience at Penn Medicine! This overwhelming response is a tribute to our dedicated staff. To see which ideas were chosen to move onto the next round, go to www.pennmedicine.org/YourBigIdea and click on View Ideas. The Tournament finale is on May 9.
By measuring employee engagement and providing tools and resources for all employees to contribute their unique talents, we nurture an environment where employees can thrive. “The level of care and support we provide to our employees translates directly to the quality of care we provide to our patients and their families,” said Judy Schueler, VP, Organizational Development and Chief Human Resources Officer. “That’s why the employee engagement survey process is so important to us---ensuring that we are positioning our employees for success.”
Coming: Focus on 4
“Focus on 4” is a new tool that will help teams track their action-planning progress in each of the four key result areas for advancing Penn Medicine:
- Employee Engagement
- Patient/Customer Experience
- Financial Performance.
In each area, teams define their own action items, goals, baseline metrics, target dates, and a description for the question, ‘What will success look like.’ Focus on 4 tools and templates will be made available to all departments over the next several months. More information will follow in an upcoming issue of System News.