Improving the Patient Experience

by Laura Santiago

Engaged employees deliver better patient satisfaction

Many studies point to a strong correlation between staff engagement and positive outcomes. In healthcare, staff who are passionate about their work create better patient experiences. So, the question on everyone’s mind is this: How do you create a culture that encourages employee engagement so they are able to deliver better patient experiences, outcomes — and ultimately — higher profitability for your organization?

To better understand the drivers that lead to higher employee engagement, we explored our database of 17 million survey responses, including more than 24,000 responses from healthcare associates in the United States and correlated it to patient experience data. Here’s what our data tells us about the relationship between the culture in healthcare organizations and patient experience.

What the data reveals about patient satisfaction and employee engagement

Many of the 15 culture drivers identified by our Top Workplaces research to be key factors in increasing employee engagement are also closely correlated to patient experience scores. Here are the top three, according to healthcare associates nationwide.

1. “This company operates by strong values.”

Healthcare is a values-driven industry. We aren’t selling televisions, building houses, or operating machinery. We are caring for lives. Healthcare employees who feel their organization operates by strong values are likely to go above and beyond to deliver exceptional patient experiences. That’s because they believe the organization cares as much about their patient as they do. They feel their organization lives up to its promises and is driven by a clear set of standards — with the patient at the center of it all.

2. “At this company, we do things efficiently and well.”

When healthcare organizations do things efficiently and well, it enables all team members to feel capable of delivering their best care. They also feel empowered to “get the job done” as best possible. The entire operation runs more smoothly and people aren’t frustrated. Plus, if the employees feel things are done efficiently, patients are likely to feel the same way. That’s why it’s important to remove barriers to getting things done. Ensuring the staff is committed to a job well done helps all employees feel engaged — that creates a better experience for the patient.

3. “This company enables me to work at my full potential.”

Healthcare associates who feel empowered to work at their full potential are more likely to apply their best talents on the job. They also feel appreciated because the organization enables them to do their best work. Potential, according to our research, is a critical driver of patient experience scores. In fact, organizations scoring below the national average on this survey statement were 130% more likely to score below the average on patient experience scores. Paying close attention to this should be a key focus for all managers and leaders who want to improve the patient experience.

Patient Experience

Taking action to increase employee engagement 

Patient experience scores are directly dependent on the engagement and passion of healthcare employees. Here’s some advice for creating a culture that supports employee engagement and ultimately better patient experience:

  • Align your organization around your core values and mission. Be sure your leaders and managers are living your values and role-modeling the behaviors you state in your values.  
  • Make sure you’re doing things efficiently and well. Your employees suffer and patients certainly notice when you are bogged down with long waiting times and poor quality.
  • Empower your employees to work to their fullest. You’ll unleash untapped potential.

The best route to success is to develop managers as coaches who can help each team member connect with the purpose of the organization and carve out a meaningful and fulfilling role.