With changes under the Affordable Care Act, hospitals are reorienting the way they look at their services. Changes in Medicare reimbursements now place a premium on the quality of care patients receive and safety more than the number of services a hospital provides. This has resulted in an even greater focus on patient satisfaction and safety across the board.
While the quality of care and the level of a patient’s satisfaction lay heavily on the shoulders of the actual healthcare providers, the responsibility of finding and retaining superior clinical staff lies with human resources professionals. Hiring, engagement and retention of driven, patient-focused professionals have become the main focus of HR departments within hospitals and healthcare organizations, with 64% focused on hiring for an appropriate cultural fit, and 82% working towards improving employee education according to a recent survey.
Hiring for Cultural Fit
In order to have a positive, patient-centered culture, hospitals need clinical staff that exhibit a solid work history in performing the core duties of their role along with the following characteristics:

A positive attitude
The ability to communicate effectively with patients (keeping in mind that patients are largely unfamiliar with and intimidated by the healthcare system) and other clinical staff (ensuring continuity of care for the patient)
The competence to educate patients on their treatment options
A willingness to extend their knowledge and compassion to patients’ family members and caregivers as appropriate

Once they have identified the key attributes of their ideal employees, they are prepared to identify them through the selection process.
Top human resources departments are able to identify these characteristics in an applicant. Behavioral assessment software can help this process as well as behavioral-based interviewing. Success with these tools requires training for all involved in the hiring process (HR and hiring leaders). This will ensure that everyone is able to assess each candidate relative to cultural fit for the organization.
Safeguarding Patients
Hospitals and other healthcare facilities can be held liable for the behavior of their employees, and all employees must be screened carefully. After all, people’s lives are at stake. Before physicians are allowed to work in hospitals, they must be privileged. Before they can be privileged, their credentials are verified. Currently, privileging is seen as an important step only for physicians, but, to maintain a safe and secure environment, privileging cannot be viewed as just for doctors anymore. Every individual who works in a healthcare facility should go through a thorough, but relevant, screening and verification process. By using a subscription-based, credentialing and privileging software platform, like IntelliCentrics SEC3URE, you can ensure the people who work in your facility are who they say they are and have the training they need to perform the tasks required of them.
Retaining Top Health Care Professionals
Employee retention is a key component of patient safety and patient satisfaction. Professionals familiar with the facility and how things work on a day-to-day basis are better able to do their jobs in both routine and emergency situations. It is the job of the human resources department to retain those phenomenal employees that they worked so hard to acquire in the first place.  Additionally, turnover negatively impacts the fiscal health of a facility, increasing costs and possibly delaying the provision of services.
A study by Harvard Business Review reveals that thriving employees (not just satisfied and productive but also engaged in creating the future—the company’s and their own) are the ones that stay and contribute most positively to an organization. These employees are not just content, they are edgy (highly energized while avoiding job burnout). The most effective ways to keep an employee engaged are to provide opportunities for the individual to be involved in decisions about their work and provide opportunities for professional growth and challenge.
HR’s role is to identify individuals with those traits associated with high levels of engagement and ensure through organizational and leadership development that opportunities are available for leaders to fully engage these high performers.  Numerous studies have shown that it is the first line leaders that are most important in engaging staff and HR needs to provide the necessary tools for these leaders to be successful.
Human Resources Plays a Major Role in Patient Safety
Patient safety and patient satisfaction ultimately boils down to the thriving (highly engaged) healthcare professionals focused on providing exceptional patient care. However, setting up and maintaining the infrastructure that allows them to do so lies largely with an organization’s HR Department. HR must find the right candidates, and facilitates the tools utilized by leaders to fully engage these highly successful individuals (technology, recognition and professional challenge).

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