Personality Testing Best Practices for Healthcare

Personality Testing Best Practices for Healthcare
Senior Director of Marketing

With the healthcare industry focused on patient satisfaction, you may be wondering what more you can do to ensure your organization’s patients have a great experience. Personalities of the people who interact with patients can play a big role in the patient experience. Using a personality assessment tool can help your organization get the right people in the right positions to improve patient care and your Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores.

“It’s about understanding what’s important with service in healthcare, and HCAHPS are all about interactions patients have with people at the hospital,” says Olivia Salas, Director of Talent Solutions at Assess Systems. “It all comes back to the people, and organizations have to make sure that they have the right people on staff all the way down to those cleaning the rooms every day.”

Personality assessments can help identify the right person for each job. “There are personality traits that help with patient-focused positions,” Salas says, referring to “softer-side” traits such as compassion and empathy. “When we think about someone in healthcare, we look at whether they have the right qualifications, the right certifications and level of experience, but it’s important to focus on personality, too. Are they someone who enjoys interacting with others? Do they want to build rapport with patients and families? Do they have empathy? When you focus on that, you can get the second half of the puzzle and find a good fit for that kind of role.”

Personality Testing Helps Improve Healthcare Communication

Donna Nowak was managing a staff of more than 300 at a large healthcare organization when she worked with consultant Kiki Orski of Peak Performance Consulting to use DiSC personality assessment software to address communication issues among staff members. DiSC is a personal assessment tool used to improve work productivity, teamwork and communication. The letters stand for dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness.

“It was a large and diverse group of individuals,” Nowak says. Surgeons who had been working for 30 years were interacting with the same patients as brand-new nurses, and depending on how the day was going and each person’s mood, patients and families could be forced to interact with a wide variety of personalities.

Knowing your own traits and inclinations, as well as those of others, can help healthcare employees become better communicators and improve patient satisfaction. “It can be a very valuable tool for helping healthcare institutions improve communication between healthcare practitioners and patients and families,” Orski says.

DiSC is typically used on employees to help them interact more effectively. “We do this with the leadership, we do it with the front-line workers, we do it with everybody in the hospital,” Orski says. “It helps interdisciplinary relations, interpersonal relations, and relations between healthcare practitioners and patients.” And because most HCAHPS categories are based in communication, improving those skills can help scores improve.

3 Ways to Get Personality Testing Right

Personality testing is a tool that only works if used correctly. If you’d like to try it at your organization, keep these best practices in mind:

  • Clarify your intent. It’s important for everyone to be on the same page about how the assessment will be used, Salas said. If you use it in recruiting, for example, decide whether it will serve as a screening tool that may be used to knock a candidate out of contention, or whether it’s simply another piece of information that can provide insight into a candidate’s fit for the job.
  • Provide follow-up. A personality assessment must be more than a one-shot in-service day, says Nowak. “You can’t pull a group of people together, administer the assessment and then say ‘here you go!’ and walk away. What helped us was that we kept building on the initial session and continued to learn about ourselves.”
  • Push people to learn. During the DiSC sessions, Nowak says Orski often broke up teams of people who tended to stick together with similar personalities or with their own departments because talking to others was important to getting new perspectives. “I believe people’s true selves came out when we broke out of comfort zones,” Nowak says.

Taking advantage of the information and insights a personality assessment can provide is a great way to get the right people into the right positions. Organizations that are looking to boost HCAHPS scores and patient satisfaction across the board may want to look into adding personality assessments to their hiring and employee development processes.

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