Improving Staff Engagement at Your Site Will Improve Patient Outcomes and Your Bottom Line

It is an axiom of business that employee engagement produces many positive results, no matter what the setting-manufacturing or service. This is true for healthcare as well. Employee engagement produces a better product or service. In healthcare, engaged employees produce enhanced patient outcomes. When employees are engaged there is less turnover, which reduces training costs. Engaged employees are problem solvers. These are just a few of the many benefits from engaging employees.

How can management engage employees at healthcare sites? A recent study by Manpower’s Right Management emphasized providing opportunities for advancement and opportunities for development. In a survey of a wide variety of organizations it found that in settings where employees felt that there were career opportunities for them, 54% were engaged. In settings where employees felt that there job was a dead end, only 9% were engaged. The same study also showed that employees who had career opportunities were likely to stay much longer than employees who did not think they had good career opportunities. For the former only 5% said they planned to leave their organization in less than one year. For the latter, 22% said they were likely to leave within a year.

Let me share an example of a primary care site which has engaged an employee through development. This site has found that the percent of collections from billed charges has drastically fallen from 75% to 60% in the past year. The practice administrator suspects that there may be several factors which have led to this, including poorer coding and physicians seeing fewer patients. Wanting to be objective, she decided to “go and see” what the real causes are. She talks to several of the staff to get their point of view. She reviews a recent external audit of billing and coding. She finds after a thorough analysis that the primary cause is coding; the percent of collections and reimbursement from first time coding has slipped. She talks to her coders and finds that the new codes are causing problems. With a team of physicians and coders she decides that the best strategy to solve this problem is provide online training to her coders. The coders in turn will instruct the physicians on how to better detail the patient visit so that the coding will be more accurate. This approach soon solves the problem. The coders believe that have played an important part in serving the practice and feel engaged.

Another way to engage employees is to provide them ways to identify and solve problems. The best healthcare sites do this by borrowing from the Lean model of Toyota. For simple problems, such as organizing a storage area that is continually disorganized, making it harder to find needed supplies, the administration has instructed the staff how to quickly form teams to provide simple solutions that can be carried out quickly and cheaply. Other sites, alternatively, may solve its simpler problems by having regular voluntary team meetings of staff in a work area, such as staff of a lab, in which problems are identified and solved in one setting.

For larger problems administration can assemble a team of those affected and use the kaizen approach that Toyota champions. This problem solving approach is carried out over a longer period and is based upon the Plan-Do-Check-Act approach. Before applying the PDCA though, the problem is thoroughly explored by “going and seeing.” A detailed analysis of the problem is presented to the kaizen team and agreement is reached that this is the real problem. By doing so, a good solution is much easier to achieve.

An example of using this kaizen approach to engage employees in problem solving is found in a primary care setting that is implementing an electronic health record. Since EHR’s are so complicated and multifunctional, it makes good sense to form an implementation team at a site, perhaps one with a leader who is an expert trained in Lean approaches and team building, a consultant if necessary, so implementation is less disruptive as new processes are created to fully make use of the EHR. Sites using such teams see a drop of only 3% or so in patient flow in the short term as implementation proceeds and income actually increases in a very short time. One site team decided to focus on using electronic prescribing features of EHR’s first in order to realize benefits right away, both in safety and in freed up time. EHR’s virtually eliminate the problems created by handwritten prescriptions-errors in dosing and drug names. This function freed up time for staff who were taking calls for refills and transmitting them to the physicians, time which could be better used for patient care. Interaction of drugs problems were also avoided.

Another example of positive results from engaged employees is my experience with the staff of Baylor Hospital in Dallas, Texas. My mother had to have a pacemaker inserted at Baylor to help with her ventricle electrical pulses. The nursing and support staff worked to make my mother as comfortable and anxiety free as possible. I was able to view this close-up as her room had a pull out bed and I stayed with her for two nights. The nurses were timely in their care and answered our questions with excellent detail. They demonstrated that the quality of her care was of utmost importance to them. They were obviously fully engaged. In fact, the Health Grades web site ranked them as providing excellent care overall.

I hope it is evident that engaged staff can provide superior quality for patients and dramatically improve the bottom line. Engaging staff by providing educational opportunities, by offering opportunities for advancement and by involving them in problem solving are just three ways to make good use of staff abilities. If such benefits are clear why aren’t more healthcare sites making use of this approach? I believe one of the reasons lies in the inability of management to let go of the control they have, to trust in the abilities of their staff. I recall just such an occasion with one physician recently. The staff nurse was complaining to me that the office would run much more smoothly if the physician did not try to micromanage every detail and let the staff do its job.

As you can see staff engagement is a Win-Win for all, even though such a transition may be difficult for some management. Taking a gradual approach to integrating staff engagement as a policy at your site will be beneficial to staff, patients and management.

Web Site Design and Choosing the Right Web Design Company

It’s been several years since you had someone design your company web site and now it’s outdated. You are losing business to competitors that have quality designed web sites with great layout and navigation. This may be your first company web site and you want to make the most of your money and time.

How do you choose a quality web design company that will understand your companies’ objective for designing or redesigning this web site?

First, you need to answer a few questions.

1. What is your budget and time frame for completing the web design or redesign project?

2. Are you going to be using original content and pictures for building this web site?

3. If this is a website redesign, are you planning on getting updated images and content for this new look and layout or will you need the web design company to supply them for you?

4. Does any one at your company have basic editing skills and will they be able to update the website content or will this be an ongoing job for the web design company you hire?

5. Are you looking for a local web design company?

6. Do you already have an idea of your web design colors, layout, and navigation?

Knowing the answers to these questions, will help you when you locate the right web design company.

Now it’s time to find the right web design company for your needs. Go to Google and search for local web design firms and you will see how many results show. Take “web design orlando” for example: Results 8,860,000. Wow, there are a lot of results for “web design orlando”.

Don’t panic, you will probably find a company that can do the quality web design work you need in the first 50 results. Quality web design firms will have a portfolio of work online that will show an example of their custom web design work. Start at the first web design result on work your way down.

Examine the portfolio to see if there is anything equivalent to the web design layout you are imagining. You will be able to tell immediately if this web design firm is right for your company and its look and feel. Find out how long they have been in the web design industry and compare that to how many quality web sites they have designed in that time.
If this is a redesign, find out how many web site redesigns that have completed and ask to see the web site before and after the redesign.

Find out if they have the staff available to work on your entire web design needs and that they know the programming necessary to complete the job in a timely manner. Ask for references, a top end web design firm will be glad to offer up references on the web design work performed. Most web design references will be glad to talk to you about the quality job your potential web design company did on their web site.

Depending on your web design budget, it may help to several quality web design companies to talk to. You will want to get at least 3 estimates and it never hurts to have more.

Remember, when it comes to your business and your companies exposure on internet, take you time locating a quality web design company. Your future may depend on it.

Trick Or Treating – It’s All Fun And Games

People will tell you that life is not all about fun and games, but at times, this is not true. You see, when Halloween comes around, it is time for fun and games. This is the one time where kids can get together with their parents and go trick or treating. Trick or treating is when kids go from door to door saying “Trick or treat” and receive candy in their bags. There are so many fun things about this holiday – October 31, yet you cannot forget the safety rules.

First of all, when you are dressing up your child for Halloween night, it is important that you think about them being visible in the night. They make special things that you can put on your child that light up in the dark. This way, if you are walking down the road, people will know they are there. For another safety tip, if you have a toddler, you should make sure you hold their hands. You should never trust them to stay next to you, because within a blink of an eye, they can disappear.

Now that we have gone over the safety rules, it is time for the fun and games. Do you know what the best thing about Halloween, besides getting all that candy for free is? The best part would be the costume.

On Halloween, you can dress up as your inner being. This could be a mage, witch, warlock, vampire, clown, skeleton, your idol, the president or anything else you can think of. This is the one night where you can wear whatever you want, be whoever you want to be and do not have to worry about people making fun of you.

When it comes to choosing a Halloween costume, there are many different options to choose from. If you are trying to save money, then you should surf around the net and see what they have to offer.

Generally, online, you can find costumes at a discount price. Another way to get a cheap costume would be to look in thrift shops in your local area. Usually, people give last years costume to thrift shops for under five dollars.