3 Takeaways from the 2018 ASHHRA Conference

Marketing Director

The 2018 American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration (ASHHRA) Conference took place this past week in the Steel City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This year’s theme was “Meeting the Challenge and Making a Difference,” which highlighted the always changing healthcare environment: from physician reimbursement, hospital quality measure, legislative updates, the increasing workforce shortage and more. With so much change affecting healthcare HR professionals, continuing education and managing job-related stress are both key to success.

The following represent my top takeaways from the 2018 ASHHRA conference. I hope you find them insightful as you plan ahead for the coming year.

Realizing the Value of Technology and Data in Healthcare

The healthcare industry may have some catching up to specifically with utilizing newer technology and cultivating a data-driven culture. “This is the HR leadership cultural challenge in this era,” Aneesh Chopra, former U.S. Chief Technology Officer, stated during the conference’s opening keynote presentation.

According to Chopra, one of the best things healthcare organizations can do is to open up more data. “[Data] enables consumers to connect that information to help improve their care and this move to value-based reimbursement,” Chopra says.

The healthcare industry is further behind than the federal government in embracing cloud computing. While HIPAA makes the exchange of digital information challenging, it also offers an opportunity to make the experience better for patients. “Under HIPAA, there’s actually a right for consumers to access their health information in an electronic and readily producible format,” Chopra explained.

In order to embrace technology and open use of data, the healthcare industry must change the paradigms for matching talent to the opportunity. “Tap into the country’s robust talent from all backgrounds,” Chopra concluded.

Promoting Program Adoption Across Your Workforce

When it comes to promoting your healthcare HR initiatives among your workforce, an effective communication plan is key. This means adopting a marketing campaign approach to ensure your efforts yield tangible results. “In many organizations, the communication is very broken,” Joe Larocque, Vice President of Solutions at GuideSpark, explained during a conference session. “[Employees] want short-form content. They want it on their mobile phone. If it’s not mobile, it doesn’t exist.”

In a session on achieving new program adoption, Laurie Wilburn, Director of Talent and Rewards and HR Operations at Nebraska Medicine, shared her organization’s approach to reach their academic health system’s 8,000-plus employees. Laroque and Wilburn recommend an ongoing campaign approach utilizing short bits of information over time (i.e. the ‘seven’ touches from the marketing world).

People need to understand why, particularly the younger generations. “[First explain] why is it important,” Larocque explains. “Then you can inform them and jump into the details. You have to reinforce the content.”

For Nebraska Medicine’s campaign, they utilized a 12-week communication plan to support their annual enrollment and change management initiative. The campaign kicked off early, offering a different communication piece about something different to help people understand what was changing. The individual communication pieces included: emails, weekly newsletters, web links, posters and postcards with SMS links, and webinars.

In conclusion, Larocque and Wilburn offered the following three tips for a successful campaign:

  1. Communicate early and often: Several touchpoints are necessary to properly reach your workforce population.
  2. Overemphasize the “why” behind the change: This is particularly important for younger generations.
  3. Identify and train champions in every department: People trust messages coming from their coworkers.

Optimizing the Candidate Screening Process with Panel Interviews

In their session titled, “Discovering the ‘Essence’ of a Candidate Prior to Hire,” Joe Marino, Senior Vice President at Hueman People Solutions and HR leaders from The Johns Hopkins Health System discussed how the health system improved their candidate screening process for a critical care unit. In order to screen better candidates for their Environmental Care Unit (EVC), they developed a structured panel interview program with prescribed questions.

“The best practice is to have peer or another manager or supervisor on the panel,” Marino explained. “If you have four people, that’s the ideal mix.”

A typical panel might comprise of the lead hiring manager, another leader, a peer, and someone from HR or recruiting. “The HR professional or recruiter are the ones responsible for holding the process together in the beginning,” Marino says.

While highly effective, the structured panel interview process is very time and resource intensive, so it may not be possible to roll it out across every department. It can take up to three to four months for departments to “get” the interview process. For Johns Hopkins, however, the investment was well worth the effort. Adopting this approach reduced their EVC’s turnover from 70.5 percent to 7.5 percent.

Did you attend this year’s ASHHRA conference? What were your favorite takeaways from the conference? Please let us know in the comments section below.

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