How Healthcare HR Can Recruit for a Patient-Centered Culture

Marketing Director

A patient-centered culture is one that "honors and responds to individual patient preferences, needs, values and goals," according to The Permanente Journal. When you hire for positions in healthcare organizations, best practices dictate a conscious recruiting process, focused on selecting those candidates who will contribute to a patient-centered culture. Below are some tips about why this is important and how to go about hiring the right people.

Why a Patient-Centered Culture Is Important

This type of approach is proven to produce better patient outcomes, and to result in fewer instances of patient litigation against the provider. When patients feel that their voices are heard, they experience a greater sense of satisfaction with the entire institution. They are more confident in expressing their personal needs to providers and staff, and the staff's sensitivity to their concerns results in a win-win situation. An illuminating article in the Annals of Oncology explains how a patient-centered approach is essential to cultural competence. Through asking sensitive questions about each individual patient's needs and preferences, it's possible to go beyond a formulaic approach to addressing a culturally diverse patient population.

Tips for Healthcare Recruitment of a Patient-Centered Team

James Merlino, M.D., Cleveland Clinic's Chief Experience Officer (CXO), offers the following hiring guidelines for building a patient-centered culture:

  • Go beyond technical competence. Many people are qualified to deliver the physical aspects of medical care, but as Dr. Merlino puts it, "Not everybody belongs in a healthcare culture."
  • Use a screening instrument in the hiring process to determine applicants' values. Dr. Merlino points out that "you've got to bring in the right people to really manage the culture. Healthcare is very hard. It's stressful... I think we need to build an engaged culture where people are coming to work for a purpose and they're not coming to work just for a paycheck."
  • Base your hiring interview questions on behavior, rather than theoretical knowledge. Your applicants need to be able to describe how they will identify and respond to individual patient needs. They must also be clear on their methods of handling their own personal stress, because patients' well-being is reliant on all healthcare staff members maintaining peak effectiveness.
  • Increase your sourcing scope through an active strategy, so that you target the talent most well-suited to your patient-centered vision.

How to Nurture Patient-Centered Culture After the Hire

Selecting the best candidate is only the beginning of nurturing a patient-centered approach in your organization. A structured onboarding process is essential to align your candidate with your organization's specific mission of maintaining a patient-centered culture. Even after the new hire is well-established within your organization, performance management is essential in nurturing a focus on patient experience. The process of monitoring employee efforts, giving them feedback and recognizing their achievement should be continuous and ongoing.

As Permanente Journal observes, the concept of patient-centered care has moved past its original focus on the relationship between clinician and patient. While this relationship is still important, the patient's experience is affected by the whole framework of healthcare delivery. Virtual medicine, patient support groups and various information channels are now part of every patient's experience. Each billing specialist, software technician and support group volunteer has an effect on the patient's overall experience.

"Patient centered care is now considered an essential aspiration of high-quality healthcare systems," said Dr. Merlino. When you maintain this concept at the forefront of your sourcing strategy, you are ensuring good patient outcomes and a solid financial future.

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